Centenary club Quess East Bengal (QEB) broke a three-game losing streak, including a derby loss, to bounce right back into contention for the Hero I-League title with a confident 2-0 away victory over defending champions Chennai City FC on Saturday evening.
Second-half goals by Spanish attackers Marcos Jimenez Espada and Hero of the Match Jaimie Santos Colado at the Nehru Stadium in Coimbatore brought home a well-deserved victory.
QEB hardly put a foot wrong on the day with stand-in coach Bastab Roy setting the ball rolling with three changes which paid rich dividends in the game. Mirshad got his first game of the season under the QEB bar and had a very good day in the office, while Asheer Akhtar in the heart of the defence built up on the potential he had already shown earlier in the league.
Mizo winger Brandon Vanlalremdika also got a first start of the season and before he was replaced in the 66th minute, should have had at least two goals to his name. Marti Crespi, Pintu Mahata and Lalthuammawia Ralte were the ones to miss out.
Akbar Nawas also made three changes to his starting XI, bringing in young Swiss recruit Jan Mazangu, Pravitto Raju and Shem Marton on for Tarif Akhand, Ajith Kumar and Sriram.
The first chance of the game went to Chennai’s Spanish striker Adolfo ‘Fito’ Araujo, one of the three he would get in the entire game. While Chennai dominated possession in the first half, QEB clearly had far better chances to score, one of them a missed penatly by Colado after the ball was handled inside the box. Nauzet Santana brought off a first of many good saves in goal on the day.
At least on three other occassions in the half, QEB found themselves one-on-one with the keeper but each time came up with newer ways to miss. Brandon missed a couple, one off a wonderful Espada through ball on a QEB counter with Santana again coming out brilliantly to thwart the dimunitive Mizo.
Colado, in the 35th, inexplicably saw his lob sail over Santana and the cross-bar and minutes later Juan Mera missed another golden opportunity to score for QEB.
The half ended goalless but QEB were clearly in the ascendancy and it bore fruit in the second.
Brandon hit the post again in the 58th, this time, after curling one past Eslava from close range. That would be his last effort of the game as Liberian frontman Ansumanah Kromah replaced him.
QEB finally broke through in the 68th minute with Kromah having an immediate impact. He played Colado into the box on the right, and the Spaniard broke away towards the goal line and crossed for Espada to tap it in expertly from close. It was a typical poacher’s goal and Espada took his tally to five for the season.
The Red and Golds then got a second penalty, Jishnu Balakrishnan being adjudged to have brought Colado down in the box.
QEB and Colado were not to be denied a second time and closed out on a much-needed victory. They now move right upto fourth with 11 points from eight games while Chennai remain on eighth with eight points from seven.