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I-League 2018-19: Alejandro Menendez praises East Bengal's spirit after comeback win

15:47 GMT 20/12/2018
Alejandro Menendez
Churchill Brothers boss Petre Gigiu blamed injuries and fatigue for his side’s poor display against East Bengal…

East Bengal came back from behind to pick up a crucial 2-1 win over Churchill Brothers on Thursday at the Tilak Maidan, Goa.

Willis Plaza scored against his former club to give Churchill the lead in the third minute but was cancelled out by Jaime Santos Colado’s brilliant volley goal in the 35th minute. Lalrindika Ralte scored the winning goal from a free-kick in the second half to seal vital three points for his side.

Speaking on East Bengal’s performance, their Spanish coach Alejandro Menendez said, “It was a difficult game on a difficult ground against a very good team. They started better than us but we progressed during the game and eventually got three points.”

The Spaniard added, “I like my team to keep more ball possession but we couldn't do it. We worked hard with a good spirit and that is how we got this victory.”

The home side indulged in a physical game throughout the match and were seen outmuscling the East Bengal players every now and then.

On Churchill’s physical game, the coach said, “There were many central balls during the match and both teams had many second balls, but I think at the end of the match, East Bengal were better physically.”

Menendez was seen replacing winger Danmawia Ralte with right-back Lalram Chullova. On being asked if the decision was made due to lack of attacking options on the bench, Alejandro said, “I wanted to play deeper on the right side as we wanted to progress further and this why I chose Chullova to play there.”

Churchill coach Petre Gigiu was not happy with his side’s performance. He suggested, “We didn't play very well. I was afraid right after the defeat against NEROCA that the team may drop. At the same time today, it was not (the absence of) Hussein (Eldor), Wayne (Vaz) or Israil (Gurung), but (Dawada) Ceesay and Khalid (Aucho) played with injuries and with half the team from the Goa league. 

“We didn't have our full concentration at some points of the game and we met a very good team today and I told my players today that this team is not (Shillong) Lajong.

“For me, it's very difficult to lose after seven games and now suddenly two loses in two games. Maybe I will have a discussion with the president (Churchill Alemao) because I don't like to lose.  

“It was also the mistake of the goalkeeper (Vigneshwaran Baskaran) for the second goal which was enough (for us) to lose the game.”

On being asked why he replaced regular goalkeeper James Kithan and fielded Baskaran, Gigiu explained, “James made a mistake in the last game and the staff had decided to go with Vicky.”