AFC Cup: Baltesier Khalsa defeat East Bengal 2-1 to register crucial home win
Balestier Khalsa edge past East Bengal 2-1 to secure a crucial home win in the AFC Cup tie. Jonathan Xu scored the first goal of the match in the 3rd minute. Miroslav Kristic increased the lead in the 15th minute. Dudu Omagbemi scored a late goal to restore some pride for East Bengal.
East Bengal high defensive line looked shaky from the beginning of the game. Balestier Khalsa’s Croatian striker Miroslav Kristic came very close to score as early as in the third minute of the match. Raju Gaikwad’ wrong anticipation of a long ball allowed Kristic to move ahead. Thankfully Raju reacted quickly and tracked back very fast to deny Kristic from scoring.
Two minutes later, the home side broke the deadlock. Abhijeet Mondal unconvincingly fisted a long ball, which was met by Mehtab Hussain at the edge of the penalty box. Hussain fumbled and Jonathan Xu snatched the ball from the Indian midfielder and found the back of the net.
East Bengal defence continued to be shaky. Balestier Khalsa toyed with the defenders every time they attacked. The away side was jolted when they lost Milan Susak due to an injury in his hand. Eelco Schattorie had no other option but to make an early substitution bringing in Gurwinder Singh.
In the 19th minute, Balestier Khalsa doubled their lead, as Miroslav Kristic edged past Gurwinder Singh with ease and converted an easy tap-in. Yet again, the East Bengal defenders failed to track back from a high line.
East Bengal started attacking from the half hour mark. They slowly took the grip of the game in their own hands and attacked in numbers. They missed several chances in the first half. Credit must also be given to the home side’s defenders and goalkeeper.
Eelco Schattorie replaced an ineffective Joachim Abranches at the beginning of the second half and fielded Baljit Singh to add more flare into East Bengal’s attack.
East Bengal dominated the proceedings in the second half but failed to generate a goal scoring move. They were also wasteful.
Ranti Martins got the best opportunity of the match in the 66th minute. He was at a hand-shaking distance from the goalkeeper. He blasted a shot but the Zaiful denied him.
Dudu Omagbemi finally restored some pride when he scored a spectacular goal in the 82nd minute. The goal was a product a wonderfully crafted move by the away side. Ranti Martins, Baljit Singh and Robert played few crisp passes at the edge of the box and delivered the ball to Dudu. The Nigerian did not make a mistake in finding the back of the net.
At the end of the first 3 group-stage fixtures, the Indian side struggle at the bottom of the group table with just 1 point.