The Red and Gold Brigade striker scored a brace in the first half.

East Bengal picked up another crucial away win as they defeated Shillong Lajong 3-1 at the Jawarhalal Nehru Stadium, Shillong to go to the top of the I-League table. A brace from Jobby Justin and a second-half strike from Bidyashagar Singh were enough to seal the deal for Bengal, who were troubled by Shillong at times. The hosts enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but Bengal’s experience and ruthlessness in front of goal earned them the win. Here are our talking points from the game:

5. Samuela is one of the best set-piece takers in the league

Samuel Lalmuanpuia led Lajong from the front, trying to earn a point for his team in such a difficult fixture. He caused all kinds of problems for the East Bengal defenders by coming deep in midfield and stitching chances for his side. However, Samuel was at his most dangerous when it came to set-pieces. His thunderous free-kick struck the post in the sixth minute and he was unlucky not to score.

The Lajong captain continued his impressive work on set-pieces later on, when his curling free-kicks tested Rakshit Dagar in the EB goal. He got his well-earned assist when his pinpoint corner found Rakesh Pradhan’s header. Going by his set-piece prowess, Samuela will score and assist many this season.

4. East Bengal awill bea terrorizing counter-attacking side this season

For the second game in a row, East Bengal did not enjoy the lion’s share of possession. They seem to be sticking to a certain method in away games, where they let the opponents enjoy possession and clinically finish the few chances they get. However, in this game, it was proven how dangerous the Red and Gold will be on the counter-attack this season.

They stitched together some blitzing counter-attacks in the game, mostly thanks to Enrique Esqueda’s brilliance. Bengal’s pacy wingers and terrific acceleration in the attack are allowing them to leave their opponents behind. Bidyashagar’s goal was proof of how good they are on the counter and why opponents need to be wary of them this campaign.

3. Lajong’s inexperience in defence cost them

Shillong Lajong have taken a bold step this season by going with a  young, Indian-only squad which brings rewards as well as consequences. While on the positive side, the youthful exuberance is allowing Lajong to play some beautiful, passing football, but they are very vulnerable at the back. The lack of experience in defence is allowing opposition strikers to get an advantage over them.

The Lajong defenders aren’t physically capable nor are they concentrated enough to track the movement of attackers. It was some defensive mistakes which led to a few goals for East Bengal, especially when they set Bidyashagar Singh free to score the third goal. Alison Kharsyntiew has his work cut out for him and needs to work harder to create a compact, more intelligent defensive line.


2. This could be Jobby Justin’s breakthrough season

Jobby Justin had a great time against the young defence of Shillong Lajong and proved why Alejandro Menendez was right to stick by him. Justin moved with intent in the final third, causing problems to Kenstar and Dohling. He flicked in a brilliant header of Lalrindika’s terrific set-piece to give his side the lead and get his first of the season.

Justin did one better, later on, holding off his defender and hitting a sweet shot which blazed into the goal. He might’ve been replaced before the hour mark, but Justin has earned his coach’s trust. He looks to be moulding into the clinical striker he’s been promising to become and impressed many with his performance.  

1. Alejandro Menendez’s faith in young domestic core working wonders

East Bengal again fielded with only three foreigners against the all-Indian team of Shillong Lajong, with Menendez sticking with Manoj Mohammed and only bringing in Brandon Vanlalremdika for Yami Longvah. However, it was again the domestic core of the team who did the work for them.

Jobby Justin scored a fantastic brace to give his side a comfortable lead in the first half and his replacement Bidyashagar scored the third to seal the win for them. Apart from them, Mohammed and Lalramchullova were again brilliant defensively, with the latter having a great game. Menendez is focusing on making East Bengal’s young domestic players perform to their best and has succeeded so far, as the Red and Gold’s Indian core has performed superbly.