I-League 2018-19: East Bengal 1-1 Aizawl FC – title race over for Red and Golds with disappointing draw against Aizawl
East Bengal’s hopes of clinching the elusive I-League this season are all but over after their draw against Aizawl FC. They were held 1-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Monday.
With just a point from this match, East Bengal climbed to the 2nd position on the league table, leaving Real Kashmir in the 3rd position. Both the teams have 33 points from 17 matches but East Bengal are a place higher due to their superior goal difference. Real Kashmir might get 3 points from the Minerva Punjab match if it is considered being forfeited by the AIFF Executive Committee.
As it stands, Chennai City will clinch the I-League if they get all the points in their next match against Churchill Brothers.
Leonce Dodoz broke the deadlock for Aizawl in the 23rd minute when he beat the offside trap to lob the ball over onrushing East Bengal goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar. Enrique Esqueda equalized for the home side when he headed home the pin-point cross from Samad Ali Mullick.
Towards the end, Aizawl defender Kareem Nurain was sent off for involving himself in a brawl with East Bengal players.
Let us take a look at why East Bengal were held against Aizawl:
#3 Defensively strong Aizawl did well to block East Bengal attacks
East Bengal played impeccable passing football for the last few matches, which earned them so much success and lifted their spirit in the run for the title. They try to use the gap between the defenders while Jobby Justin or Enrique Esqueda makes a run to receive the ball and put it into the back of the net.
Aizawl’s new coach Stanley Rozario likes to study the opponent’s before the match. He made a perfect plan to foil East Bengal’s attack. So whenever East Bengal came to attack, lots of Aizawl players gathered inside the box and closed all the gaps in order to prevent passing. The move worked as East Bengal found it really hard to move the ball in and outside the box. Their natural game was gone.
Due to the rainfall earlier in the day, the weather became pleasant which also helped the Aizawl players to play with all their energy. They ran hard, chased for the ball and snatched it from their opponents for a major part of the game.
They only time Aizawl committed a mistake was during the equalizer from East Bengal. Esqueda was left unmarked in the box and the Mexican calmly headed the pin-point cross from Samad Ali Mullick. East Bengal made every effort to find a winner but credit goes to Aizawl defenders for putting their all on the field to prevent East Bengal from scoring.