While their efforts weren’t rewarded with any points, Arrows put in a brave performance which caused the hosts plenty of problems.

East Bengal scraped through to a 1-0 victory over Indian Arrows in their I-League encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Friday. A solitary goal from Jaime Santos Colado early in the second half proved to be the winner and despite Manoj Mohammed getting sent off late into the game and a fearless Arrows side pressing for an equalizer, East Bengal held on for three crucial points before the Kolkata Derby.

Here are our talking points from the game:

5. Lalrindika Ralte’s creativity sorely missed by East Bengal

Alejandro Menendez decided to give experienced midfielder Lalrindika Ralte some much-needed rest before the Kolkata Derby. In place of him started Kamalpreet Singh in his defensive midfield role, automatically creating a void. With Kassim Aidara also playing defensively, Ralte’s sleek passing  and his fantastic long balls were missing.

The Red and Gold Brigade also missed his brilliant set-pieces, as well as his creative ability to stitch together attacks. The game, equally enjoyed by a resurgent Indian Arrows side, proved how important Ralte is in terms of kick-starting attacks and controlling possession for East Bengal.

4. Did Indian Arrows’ fearlessness get rewarded?

The AIFF developmental side took the game to East Bengal but were unlucky not to get all three points

Unlike other teams who come to the Salt Lake Stadium with a cautious demeanour, Indian Arrows lined up without any signs of fear against the attacking might of East Bengal. Floyd Pinto gave both Vikram Pratap Singh and Rohit Danu starts, while going with a four-man defence. This worked in the young side’s favour, as the Arrows took the game to East Bengal. With the extra man in midfield, Arrows counter-attacked proficiently and created some good chances.

They played much more fluid, positive football without any pressure and made things very difficult for East Bengal. While their efforts weren’t rewarded with any points, the Arrows’ brave performance caused East Bengal big problems and proved how much they’ve developed over this season.


3. Did Monday blues hamper East Bengal’s performance?

The hosts weren’t at their lethal best

The Red and Gold didn’t find the game to be as easy as they would’ve liked. Indian Arrows gave a courageous performance, always looking to create chances and testing their resolve.  However, East Bengal themselves weren’t at their lethal best. Some doubts about their ruthlessness might’ve been raised on Friday, as they struggled to finish off chances despite creating them pretty well.

The players inter-connected superbly on the attacking front, but lacked the clinical touch, in-turn missing some easy chances, exemplified by Jobby Justin and Jaime Santos failing to score in front of open goals. Maybe that crushing feeling from Monday hasn’t worn off them yet, hence resulting in somewhat of an inefficient performance from Menendez’s men.

2. Indian Arrows have matured under Floyd Pinto

Indian Arrows produced arguably their best performance against a “big side” so far this season, keeping East Bengal grounded at the Salt Lake Stadium. Pinto took a gamble by playing a relatively attacking formation and while the Arrows didn’t score, they showed much promise with witty attacking moves. The young guns moved forward with much intent, moving the ball cleverly and keeping East Bengal on their toes throughout.  

They proved how they weren’t pushovers anymore, showing maturity in defence as well as attack. The encouraging performance showed how much Pinto has helped these boys grow over the last season, with clear signs of improvement being embedded all over their gritty showing.

1. Can the Spanish connection guide East Bengal to derby success?

While East Bengal didn’t produce the most memorable performance against Indian Arrows, they got the job done mostly due to the brilliance of their foreign recruits. At the core of their success were Spanish stars Jaime Santos Colado, who scored the goal, along with glittering performances from Borja Perez and Toni Dovale. While Colado was efficient in front of goal, Dovale’s trickery helped them create multiple chances.

Borja was arguably the best player in his first game as East Bengal captain, putting in an emphatic performance at the back. He cleared everything the Arrows threw at him, while making thumping challenges. If the Red and Gold Brigade are to overthrow Mohun Bagan on the 27th, their Spanish core needs to be at their best. They’ll need to be influential if Menendez’s side wish to play creative football and do the double over the Mariners.