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Lalrindika Ralte inspires East Bengal Club to victory

I-League: East Bengal Club v Sporting Clube de Goa

I-League: East Bengal Club v Sporting Clube de Goa

East Bengal Club edged past Sporting Clube de Goa 2-1 in a Round 23 encounter of the Airtel I-League at the Saltlake Stadium on Sunday evening.

Baljit Sahni gave East Bengal the lead on the stroke of halftime after a nice low cross from Lalrindika Ralte, who doubled the home team’s advantage in the second period.

Beevan D’Mello pulled one back for Sporting Clube late on but the red-and-gold brigade held on for their eighth win of the campaign.

The result sees East Bengal move into the top four for the first time this season but they still trail leaders Bengaluru FC by seven points with two games in hand while Sporting Clube are now winless in six games.

East Bengal started strongly and their first effort came from a Raju Gaikwad long throw as Chidi’s header was parried away by Sporting Clube keeper Melroy Fernandes.

Sporting Clube took time to settle into the game but nearly scored when Joseph Perreira’s attempted cross had to be tipped over for a corner by East Bengal custodian Abhra Mondal.

The hosts won several freekicks and corners while Raju kept producing long throws but Melroy wasn’t really tested. At the other end Boima Karpeh and Rowlin Borges tried their luck from outside the box but neither could hit the target.

Armando Colaco made a first half substitution as he brought on Baljit in place of Cavin Lobo and the change paid dividends just before the interval as Baljit slotted home Lalrindika’s low cross into the six-yard box.

It was a well-worked goal as a quick counter attack released Lalrindika on the left flank with the Mizoram midfielder having the time and space to find Baljit who couldn’t miss from close range.

Sporting Clube looked to make a fast start in the second period but they didn’t create too many clear cut chances with Joseph only hitting a shot straight at Abhra.

In a double substitution, Oscar Bruzon introduced Royston D’souza and Beevan D’Mello but East Bengal increased their lead through Lalrindika.

A trademark Raju long throw was punched clear by Melroy only as far as Lalrindika whose shot from outside the box took a deflection off Chinta Chandrashekhar and went into the back of the net.

At 2-0, Sporting Clube had a mountain to climb but they produced a good spell of pressure with Royston wasting a good opportunity while Karpeh and D’Mello were denied by Abhra. East Bengal also wasted chances as Baljit and Lalrindika missed the target from promising positions.

East Bengal were very defensive in the closing stages and that allowed Sporting Clube to get back into the game as they reduced the deficit in the 90th minute. A fine run from Karpeh into the box resulted in a goal-mouth scramble and eventually D’Mello scored with a neat finish.

Sporting Clube threatened to complete the comeback in stoppage time but East Bengal just about held on for three valuable points.

(Report & Pictures courtesy AIFF Media)