HERO I-LEAGUE: Superb Chennai do the double over East Bengal

Coimbatore, January 14, 2019: As the referee blew for the final whistle at the Nehru Stadium on Monday it was the second time in the season that Chennai City FC had beaten East Bengal.

The 2-1 result was the same as the earlier game at Kolkata’s Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) where East Bengal had lost after taking the lead.

Chennai’s Spanish striker Pedro Manzi scored his 11th goal of the season while Romario Jesuraj also scored to take the hosts to the top of the 12th Hero I-League, five points ahead of second-placed Churchill Brothers.

East Bengal are on sixth with a game in hand. Despite Laldanmawia Ralte’s fourth goal of the season their hopes of winning a first ever I-League trophy looks like a mirage.

Both teams made one change to their starting eleven. East Bengal coach Alejandro Garcia was forced to replace Lalram Chullova (suspended after a red-card in the game against Indian Arrows) with Samad Ali Mallick.

Chennai coach Akbar Nawas, on the other hand, played Pravitto Raju in place of Shem Martin Eugene.

East Bengal took an early lead in the ninth minute. As defender Borja desperately headed back across goal in a bid to clear…the ball fell to Ralte who nodded home from close range!

Chennai upped the ante as they searched for an equalizer. A wonderful pass from Roberto Eslava found its way into the box to Nestor only for Samad to shield him away in the nick of time.

As Sandro unleashed a rasping drive from outside the box East Bengal goalkeeper Dagar executed a fine save in the 34th minute. Though Chennai were a goal down into the break they clearly were the better team.

They equalized in the 49th minute thanks to Manzi’s 11th goal of the season. That strike made him the season’s joint top-scorer with Churchill’s Willis Plaza.

Romario Jesuraj had pulled the ball back for an onrushing Edwin Vanspaul in the build-up to the goal. And as Vanspaul’s strike deflected off Manzi and wrong-footed Dagar…Chennai had equalized!

The hosts later went ahead thanks to a brilliant tactical change by Nawas. Raju was sent wide on the right and Romario Jesuraj was brought in-field.

A failed interception by East Bengal left back Manoj Mohammad allowed Raju to lay it off for Romario who shot to the top right past a befuddled Dagar!

Romario Jesuraj was adjudged the ‘Hero of the Match’.

Both teams play their next game in four days’ time. Chennai play Aizawl at home while East Bengal face an in-form Indian Arrows in Kolkata.

Also Read: HERO I-LEAGUE: Norde magic helps Bagan down Neroca FC

Also Read: HERO I-LEAGUE: Real Kashmir inch closer to top after Aizawl stalemate

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