East Bengal 1 (Ralte 43) – 0 Selangor FA
East Bengal: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Raju Gaikwad, Uga Okpara, Saumik Dey; Sanju Pradhan, Mehtab Hossain, Penn Orji, Lalrindika Ralte; Andrew Barisic (Robin Singh 87), Edeh Chidi (Baljit Sahni 83).
Selangor FA: Norazlan Razali; Mahali Jasuli, Peter Chrappan, Mohd Asraruddin Putra Omar, Adib Aizuddin Abdul Latif, Francis Doe, Michal Kubala (Guruswamy Kandasamy 80), Abdul Shukor Jusoh (Abdul Aziz 68), Mohd Amri Yahyah (Muhammad Afiq 87), Veenod Subhramaniam, Mohd Raimi Mohd Nor.
East Bengal defeated Malaysia’s Selangor FA 1-0 to record their first win in the AFC Cup in 22 games, also their first after almost five years. The red-and-gold brigade created and wasted plenty of chances, but young Lalrindika Ralte converted one of them to give the I-League leaders a deserved win against a sluggish-looking Malaysian outfit.
East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan named all his four foreign players in the starting lineup, as top scorer Edeh Chidi and Australian striker Andrew Barisic were paired together upfront. Young Gurpreet Singh Sandhu got the nod ahead of Abhijit Mondal in goal, while captain Sanju Pradhan also got a start in place of the suspended Ishfaq Ahmed.
The biggest team news though was the absence of Lebanese defender Ramez Dayoub from the entire match squad of Selangor FA. Late on Tuesday evening news emerged that Dayoubr received a life ban for match-fixing while playing for the Lebanon national team, and thus to avoid any controversy, the 28-year-old was excluded from the squad.
Selangor were operating with a lone striker in Liberian Francis Doe, while Slovakian duo Michal Kubala and Peter Chappran also started. The Malaysian club looked clearly affected by the match-fixing allegations on one of their most influential players, and East Bengal made the most of it by starting the game very brightly.
The hosts could and should have gone in front in the first five minutes, as first Andrew Barisic wasted a one-on-one chance and then Chidi hit the post from a Mehtab Hossain corner. That became the characteristic of the first half, as East Bengal were wasting chance after chance.
Barisic in particular was very wasteful, as he squandered two sitters, with one of them being a weak effort from five yards that was easily saved by Selangor goalkeeper Norazlan Razali. Penn Orji also missed a golden opportunity from close range, while Lalrindka Ralte forced a smart save off Razali.
Selangor hardly looked a threat going forward, with only Liberian striker Francis Doe having a couple of half chances. But East Bengal’s wasteful finishing gave one the feeling that they could concede on the break.
However, Ralte finally put them in front in the 43rd minute. The Mizoram lad was given time and space to shoot from 25 yards, and he capitalised by scoring with a powerful left-footer. Razali could have done better, but Ralte and East Bengal deserved that goal.
East Bengal played at a much slower tempo in the second half, clearly looking to protect the one-goal lead, and that made it difficult for Selangor to create clear-cut chances.
The Malaysian club tested Gurpreet from a Kubala freekick, but always looked vulnerable to at the back as Sanju went close with a shot from just outside the box.
Barisic wasted a fourth sitter in the closing stages as he skied Chidi’s perfect low cross, and Penn also had an effort saved by Razali, but luckily for East Bengal, Selangor didn’t make them pay for all those missed opportunities.
The Malaysian club used up all three of their substitutions but never threatened to equalise, as East Bengal held on to give Morgan his first AFC Cup win.Published 27 Feb 2013, 17:08 IST