I-League 2018-19: East Bengal finish second despite win over Gokulam Kerala
East Bengal suffered disappointment even after beating Gokulam Kerala 2-1 in Kozhikode...

East Bengal's hopes of winning their first ever I-League title once again fell by the wayside despite beating Gokulam Kerala FC 2-1 at the EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode on Saturday.

Marcus Joseph gave the hosts the lead in the 69th minute but a penalty from Jamie Santos Colado (79') and Laldanmawia Ralte's strike (85') helped East Bengal pick up full points.

However, Chennai City FC's win against Minerva Punjab in Coimbatore meant that East Bengal finished a point behind the South Indian side and had to settle for the second spot.

Imran Khan and U-22 full-back Monotosh Chakladar replaced Deepak and Mehtab Singh in the Gokulam Kerala lineup as Bino George reverted to a four-man defence. Alejandro Menendez made three changes to the team that edged out Minerva Punjab 1-0. Manoj Mohammad, Borja Gomez and Brandon Vanlalremdika replaced Toni Dovale, Salam Ranjan and Kamalpreet Singh.

East Bengal got off to a good start with Colado and Enrique Esqueda threatening the Gokulam defence. Colado skipped past his marker to get into the box but a sliding challenge by Irshad denied the Spaniard a chance to shoot.

The hosts soon gained control in midfield and were able to string passes together. Defender Andre received the ball from a Marcus Joseph corner and forced a good save from Rakshit Dagar in the 18th minute.

Marcus Joseph continued from where he left off from the last game and soon became a nuisance for the East Bengal defence. A long ball, chested down into his path by Emmanuel, was fired at goal by the Trinidadian but was saved by Dagar.

Minutes later, when Arjun Jayaraj's lob fed Marcus through on goal. The striker outmuscled Gomez to get into the box but his shot was kept out by the goalkeeper. Chakladar's throw-in from the right flank had the striker in a similar position but Dagar was upto the task once again.

East Bengal struggled to create chances but Gokulam Kerala kept the pressure on at the other end. A beautiful lob into the box took the Red and Gold defence by surprise, and with Marcus latching onto the ball, Dagar pulled off another good save to keep the title-chasers in the game.

Samad Mallick's introduction at right-back helped East Bengal dominate that side of the field after the break. After a neat passing move, Lalrindika Ralte trie his luck with an excellent curling strike that was denied by the post after hour-mark. 

Gokulam Kerala took the lead from an excellent move in the 69th minute. Arjun Jayaraj played the ball into the feet of Emmanuel inside the box whose backheel was slotted into the corner of the net by Marcus Joseph. 

A desperate East Bengal pushed forward, seeking a way back into the game. Ten minutes after the hosts scored, a foul by Shibinraj inside the box from a Jaime Santos corner gave the visitors a penalty. Colado stepped up and scored from 12 yards to pull his team level. 

East Bengal completed the comeback six minutes after going ahead. Colado headed a ball into the box back across the goal for Laldanmawia Ralte to head at Arnab Das. The goalkeeper was unable to collect the ball, allowing Ralte to poke the ball back into the net. 

The Red and Golds did well to turn the game around in the second half but a win for Chennai City against Minerva Punjab meant that the long wait for the title continued.



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