Goa has never been a happy hunting ground for the Red and Golds. Their track record there has been below par and they had failed to beat Churchill in Goa in the last two seasons.
Another myth that existed in Kolkata Maidan prior to this match was that East Bengal never win after winning a derby match against their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan. The most notable example of this is East Bengal’s defeat in 1997 Federation Cup final against Salgaocar in Kolkata.
Fresh from beating Mohun Bagan 4-1 in the semi-finals, East Bengal were brimming with confidence ahead of the final. But Bruno Coutinho’s brace brought East Bengal back to the ground as Salgaocar lifted the Federation Cup title.
Thus, Alejandro Menendez’s men were under a lot of pressure when they took on Petre Gigiu’s side on Thursday in a crucial I-League encounter.
It was not the ideal start which Alejandro would have wanted for his side as former East Bengal striker Willis Plaza scored as early as in the 3rd minute of the match. Plaza completely outfoxed Borja Gomez inside the box and found the back of the net.
But a world-class strike by Jaime Santos Colado put East Bengal back in the match just seven minutes before halftime. The Spanish youngster has already gelled with the team well and is showing early promise.
Lalrindika Ralte’s free-kick in the second half sealed the fate in East Bengal’s favour and helped them climb to the second spot on the league table.
The Kolkata giants have now registered three consecutive wins after three back-to-back defeats. They are slowly gaining form and are improving game-by-game.
The defence has finally shown some stability as the duo of Johnny Acosta and Borja Gomez kept Willis Plaza, Anthony Wolfe, Dawda Ceesay and Khalid Aucho silent for the majority of the match.
Johnny Acosta’s performance has been scrutinised since his debut and has been criticised for not living up to his World Cupper tag. But the Costa Rican had a splendid game against Churchill and has now managed to shut his critics up.
Credit must be given to coach Alejandro Menendez as well whose tactical brilliance saw East Bengal clinch the win in Goa. The Churchill midfield which had physically strong players like Khalid Aucho and Dawda Ceesay made it impossible for the East Bengal players to launch attacks down the middle.
Thus the Spaniard introduced Lalram Chullova on the right flank in place of Laldanmawia Ralte to start mobilising the wings. Chullova’s inclusion did wonders as East Bengal won a free-kick on the right flank minutes later and Didika scored the winning goal from it.
With the win against Churchill, East Bengal has managed to shatter two myths - they have won after winning the Kolkata derby and returned from Goa with full points.