I-League 2018-19: East Bengal v Shillong Lajong Laldanmawia Ralte's Love for Goals sees Red and Gold mount late title challenge

East Bengal players celebrate after scoring a goal
East Bengal players celebrate after scoring a goal
Avik Roy

It was win that was expected - even the scoreline.

Against a heavyweight East Bengal full of talented foreigners, Lajong stood no chance of creating an upset. It didn’t happen either as East Bengal thrashed the Meghalaya-based team 5-0 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Thursday.

Laldanmawia Ralte, the revelation for the Red and Golds this season, scored a fine hat-trick with Jobby Justin and Enrique Esqueda also finding the net in the 2nd half. This is the biggest victory for East Bengal this season and has kept them in the hunt for the I-League title.

With this win, East Bengal climbed up to the third position on the table with 31 points from 15 matches, leapfrogging Churchill Brothers. East Bengal trail Chennai City by 3 points with a game in hand. Shillong Lajong remained on the 11th position with another bad display.

Let us look at the reasons behind East Bengal’s win:

#3 Complete domination from East Bengal

East Bengal produced a dominating performance throughout the match
East Bengal produced a dominating performance throughout the match

Before the match, East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez promised that his team would match the pace produced by the young Shillong Lajong team, which relies on speed to win matches.

What transpired during the match was complete domination from East Bengal as Lajong’s youngsters were no match against their opponents, who ticked every box on the field.

From the very first minute, East Bengal took control of the game. It was a superb example of all-round performance by the red and golds. Their passing was brilliant, played short passes to create attacks, using the wings judiciously, pressed for every ball, made all-out attacks but maintained a disciplined defence.

The introduction of Enrique Esqueda in the starting lineup helped East Bengal to maintain composure in the attacking third, an area where they lacked in the previous matches. Esqueda was impressive throughout. Apart from scoring a goal, he provided an assist.

But Laldanmawia’s exceptional performance mesmerized all. Rather than his usual position on the right wing, he was operating more as a withdrawn striker and that helped East Bengal create more pressure up front. In fact, if they converted all the chances that they got, they could have won by a bigger margin.

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Edited by Aravind Suchindran
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