East Bengal's CFL dreams up in smoke after crushing loss to Mohammedan Sporting
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
Mohun Bagan can wrap up the title against Calcutta Customs on Wednesday.
East Bengal’s Calcutta Football League dreams ended after they went down to a 2-1 loss against Mohammedan Sporting at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday. After Jonny Acosta scored his second goal in three games, the Black Panthers’ persistence for a goal paid off when Nigerian striker Tettey Adjah scored a dramatic brace in the dying minutes.
The defeat not only sunk the hearts of The Red and Gold supporters, but it also gives Mohun Bagan a golden opportunity to seal their first CFL title in nine years against Calcutta Customs on Wednesday.
East Bengal made a flurry of changes after their disappointing loss against Peerless last week, with the likes of Prakash Sarkar and Yami Longvah getting their first starts of the season and Lalrozama Fanai coming back into the team after a lengthy absence.
It was also Mohammedan Sporting’s first match at the Salt Lake Stadium in almost four years and they relied on star striker Princewell Emeke to come up with the goods. Emeke started the game in a terrorizing manner, going past multiple East Bengal defenders in the second minute, before his shot from a tight angle was smartly saved by Rakshit Dagar.
Bazie Armand was also looking to make an impact early on, stealing the ball from midfield in the 4th minute, before charging forward and taking a thunderous shot which wasn’t that far away from going into the net.
Longvah found some space outside the box in the 9th minute and took an ambitious shot which skied just over Arup Debnath's net. The Red and Gold’s set-piece threat paid off in the 12th minute when Laldanmawia Ralte’s venomous header from Fanai’s corner was parried away by Debnath, but Acosta pounced on the rebound and gave his side the lead.
Mohammedan were finding it difficult to create attacking moves, but East Bengal kept on looking for more as the game progressed. Bengal created another beautiful move through the right wing in the 27th minute, when Laldanmawia Ralte played a superb one-two pass and had a free aim at goal, but his powerful shot was parried away strongly by Debnath. The Black Panthers churned up a counter-attack two minutes later, but despite showing unreal pace, Dipendu Dowary poorly scuffed his shot in the end.
Armand proved to be an energetic figure in midfield and stole the ball from Mehtab Singh and went inside the box, but his indecisiveness resulted in a horrible shot that strayed way wide of goal. Both teams created a few more chances before half-time, but Mohammedan headed into the break frustrated by wasting some of their promising chances.
The Black Panthers started the second half brightly, attacking with real intent and even created a chance in the 50th minute, when Dowary’s curling shot from outside the box blazed just wide of the target.
Mohammedan created another glorious opportunity five minutes later when Rahul KP failed to pounce on Bengal’s defensive error and laid it onto substitute Prosenjit Chakraborty, whose corresponding shot grazed the post and went out. Raghunath Nandy was frustrated even more in the 59th minute, when Kamran Farooque’s blazing shot from outside the box struck the post again, much to the defenders’ agony.
There was controversy in the 66th minute, when chaos ensued in the box after a Mohammedan corner. Rahul KP’s shot struck the hand of an East Bengal player only for the referee to wave play on, much to the dismay of Mohammedan officials. Arup Debnath pulled off the save of the game in the 78th minute, when he amazingly tipped over Jobby Justin’s long-range effort onto the post and out.
Mohammedan substitute Sumit Das made a terrific, darting run through the right three minutes later and his dangerous ball wasn’t cleared by Bengal and fell to Dowary, but his curling shot never dipped and sailed over the goal. Just when it looked like Bengal would get all three points, The Black Panthers scored a stunning equalizer in the 87th minute. A horrible backpass from Laldanmawia allowed substitute Tettey Adjah to pounce on the ball and steal it from Acosta, before showing amazing composure to go around Dagar and slot the ball into the net to level things.
East Bengal threw everyone forward in added-time to try and get the winner, but were further shocked when Adjah again stole the ball from Samad Ali Mallick and sprinted ahead with only Dagar to beat. He easily went past the keeper before again slotting into an open net to give Mohammedan their first win against East Bengal in four years and prove their worth as a "big club" in Kolkata.
Published: Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:05 PM IST