Laldanmawia Ralte’s brace powered the Red and Gold’s commanding success.
Kingfisher East Bengal silenced their critics with a spectacular 5-1 thrashing of Shillong Lajong in the 2017/18 Hero I-League, after their Kolkata derby defeat, at the Vidyasagar Krirangan (Barasat Stadium) on Saturday (December 9, 2017).
Mahmoud Al Amna opened the scoring in the 14th minute before Eduardo Ferreira made it 2-0 five minutes later. Laldanmawia Ralte scored a brace (52nd and 65th) before winning a penalty for Katsumi Yusa to convert in the 79th minute. Samuel Lalmuanpuia (87th) ensured the northeastern side did not return empty-handed, only on the goals scored column though.
Springing no major surprises barring the emergence of Arnab Mondal into the starting eleven for the first time this season, Khalid Jamil went in with his 4-1-4-1 formation. This time, Katsumi Yusa was on the flank with youngster Prakash Sarkar given a run out at right-back and Mirshad Michu returned to replace Luis Barreto between the sticks.
Bobby Nongbet was not shy of continuing a 4-2-3-1 formation as 19-year-old Samuel Lalmuanpuia continued to lead the line as well as wear the captain’s armband. Young Lalrohlua was given a chance in midfield as Abdoulaye Koffi was injured.
Watch: East Bengal 5-1 Shillong Lajong highlights
The deadlock was broken in the first quarter of an hour itself. Mahmoud Al Amna glided into the box from debutant Prakash Sarkar’s long ball and left Laurence Doe for dead before he lashed out a shot from an angle, only to take a minor deflection off Rakesh Pradhan and lodge into the net, despite Phurba Tempa Lachenpa’s best efforts to dive the right way.
Six minutes after that, the Red and Golds doubled their lead as Katsumi Yusa sent in an inswinging corner which Eduardo Ferreira headed correctly to bring up his second goal of the season as Novin Gurung failed to mark the former Mohun Bagan man in the near post.
Katsumi Yusa and the whole crowd appealed for a penalty in the 27th minute as the East Bengal man alleged a push from Ju Ho-Oh, the Korean Republic defender inside the box but referee Senthil Nathan did not pay heed.
Mirshad, returning to the game after being dropped from the last game had quite a few nervous moments in his own box but the Red and Golds managed to keep their two-goal lead intact into the halftime break.
Laldanmawia Ralte came good in the second period to record a brace for himself. First, he was released by Al Amna on the right flank and slammed the ball past a hapless Lachenpa as Rakesh Pradhan was nowhere to be seen. Laurence Doe then failed to find his captain and his mispass ended up with the former Aizawl FC man.
With an almost-absent defensive line, Ralte scored the second of his night and the hosts were 4-0 up with the crowd sent into a tizzy.
Ralte then helped win his side a penalty as Redeem Tlang had made matters worse for his side. Katsumi Yusa stepped up and delivered from the spot as the Japanese playmaker made no mistake from the twelve-yard spot.
Lajong, however, ensured that Kingfisher East Bengal did not end the match with a clean sheet. Samuel Lalmuanpuia’s well-taken free-kick from range nestled right into the net, leaving Mirshad and the crowd stunned in silence, to get a consolation goal.
The victorious side now have four points and sit in the fourth position, playing Churchill Brothers on 16th December at home next. Lajong stay one point behind leaders Minerva Punjab FC and stay on in the city to face Mohun Bagan on Thursday.