East Bengal earned a morale-boosting win against Neroca to remain in hunt for the elusive I-League title. The Red and Golds won by 2-1 against the Imphal-based side at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday.
Enrique Esqueda, who was introduced in the 2nd half, lived up to his reputation with two fine goals as East Bengal overcame an early scare to win the match.
Chencho Gyeltsen, who is fondly called Bhutanese Ronaldo for his style of play, scored as early as the 3rd minute of the match to put the visitors ahead in a crucial game.
East Bengal looked completely clueless in the first half as they failed to create enough chances thanks to a tight defending from Varney Kallon and former East Bengal player Eduardo Ferreira.
Finally the introduction of Esqueda in the 2nd half changed the complexion of the match as the Mexican scored two within a space of 20 minutes to win the game for his team.
East Bengal will, however, face their most difficult test when they face Real Kashmir in freezing conditions in Srinagar within three days' time.
But before that, let us analyse the reasons behind East Bengal’s comeback win:
#3 East Bengal’s perseverance earned them three points
Neroca had a dream start after scoring in the third minute through their new signing Chencho Gyeltsen. They had enough chances to make more damage. But the North-Eastern side surprisingly held back and concentrated more on their defence.
East Bengal, who usually create chances through short passes from the middle, failed to pose any danger due to the tight defending from Neroca players. Lalrindika Ralte, who controls the midfield, was off colour during the first half and lost concentration too many times. He made some tough challenges towards his opponents, one of which also earned him a booking.
The Red and Golds also made too many miss passes at crucial junctures to lose the ball easily to their opponents. As Jobby was tightly marked, there was a need for another striker who could inflict some damage.
They found the answer in Enrique Esqueda. East Bengal’s approach changed in the 2nd half. The introduction of Esqueda and Brandon made East Bengal look more threatening inside the opponent’s half. Jaime Santos kept on making dangerous runs into the box.
East Bengal should be given credit for their perseverance. Against a tough defence, East Bengal players waited patiently for a mistake by their opponent. Their wait ultimately proved correct as the Red and Golds earned three vital points.