East Bengal kept their title hopes alive as they edged past a stubborn NEROCA FC defence with a 2-1 scoreline to keep the pressure on leaders Real Kashmir FC and Chennai City FC who are placed higher in the points table. Double strikes from Mexican forward Enrique Esqueda was enough to clinch three points from the crucial tie at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday evening.
Enrique also scored a brace the last time these two teams met in Imphal last year, each of the goals was crucial for the fate of the club in the competition, but the footballer feels he was lucky to score twice in the weekday fixture. “I think I was lucky to score twice again, we need to enjoy today and get back to work again for future matches,” said the striker in the post-match press conference.
Enrique was injured for a major part of the I-League after playing a few matches in the beginning. This was a huge comeback for the Mexican in front of a strong home crowd, although he feels that his family remains his primary motivation.
Regarding the matter, he said, “My first motivation is my family, I am always a professional. That’s my second motivation. You can see when I arrived I started working from the get-go. I’m trying to help all my teammates and we have a few difficult matches in front to try and win the I-League.”
Regarding his experience and stay at the Kolkata based club, he said, “It’s fantastic, I think you can see when my family comes to the ground. They are enjoying their time in India. I am just enjoying this journey with East Bengal.”
Esqueda heaped words of praise on his teammate Jobby Justin, who has been exceptional this season. The foreigner feels that Jobby has the potential to play football abroad. “He is a great player, he can play in another country if he wants, he keeps on learning and he is still young and he can play abroad,” said Thursday’s ‘man of the match.’
Chencho Gyelthshen’s strike in the third minute of the match set the tone for the rest of the 87 minutes. It was an end to end action from both the sides, with the hosts creating enough opportunities to score the equaliser but failed to convert each and every time.
Jobby Justin’s acrobatic effort at the stroke of half time was laudable. In the supply line, Toni Dovale and Jaime Colado Santos played around with short passes, penetrated the midfield pretty well but the finishing was poor.
The red and gold brigade meant business in the second half, it was a decisive 45 minutes for the Kolkata giants in the context of the championship. The repeated efforts almost paid off in the 55th minute but Borja Gomez’s header was disallowed because Laldanmawia Ralte was caught in an offside position. Super-sub Enrique Esqueda excellent header from Jamie’s pinpoint cross levelled the scores in the 66th minute of the match.
East Bengal will travel to the northern part of the country to play their next match against Real Kashmir FC in extreme climatic conditions this coming weekend. It is expected to be a cracker of a match, all the more because the result will affect the complexion of the entire I-League.