I-League 2018-19: Chennai City end East Bengal's winning start
AIFF
The unbeateb visitors consolidated their top spot on the league table...

East Bengal lost their first match of the 2018-19 I-League to Chennai City FC, going down 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday.

Sandro Rodriguez (45+2') and Nestor Gordillo (87' Pen.) scored for the visitors while Enrique Esqueda (52') wrote his name onto the scoresheet, leaving the Southern side unbeaten after four games.

Alejandro Menendez in his first home bow made two alterations to the side that started the win over Shillong Lajong. Samad Ali Mallick replaced Lalramchullova and Brandon Vanlalremdika was relegated to the bench with Yami Longvah getting a look in.

Pedro Manzi passed a late fitness test as Akbar Nawas stuck to the same lineup that prevailed over Gokulam Kerala in a five-goal thriller last week.

In a docile first half for most parts, it was Chennai City whose football was a sight for sore eyes. East Bengal did get a few opportunities to make life uneasy for the visitors from down south but were far from clinical in the final third.

Rakshit Dagar showed some heart to come off his line and punch the ball away right in front of Manzi. At the other end, Longvah took too much time in front of the box as the ball was snatched off of him after Esqueda had delivered perfectly, all before the twenty-minute mark.

The Spanish influence on the game was evident as Sandro and Manzi pounced upon a messy Lalrindika Ralte backpass but the latter failed to score from handshaking distance in front of an empty net.

Their efforts were rewarded late into injury time. Sandro, from around 30 yards out curled in a freekick from his left foot that looped over the wall and went into the corner of the net, past Dagar.

Chennai City walked out at halftime buoyed by a goal but that lead was short-lived after the change of ends, thanks to Enrique Esqueda.

Substitute Surabuddin Mallick squared the ball for Johnny Acosta who deftly flicked it for Esqueda. The Mexican international slotted the ball home with the keeper nowhere in sight.

After that, East Bengal's scrappy football meant it was no surprise that Chennai City got the winner in the dying embers of the game.

Ajithkumar Kamaraj released Pravitto Raju on the run and Dagar foolishly came out to bring him down inside the box. Nestor Gordillo did not fail to convert from six yards as the fans started leaving early with the fate of their side sealed.

Chennai City are top of the league table with ten points from four games but East Bengal, having played a game less are second with six points.

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