An early Edeh Chidi goal and a wonder strike from Lalrindika Ralte give the Red and and Gold the all-important the points against a sorry Mumbai side.
Desperate to get their title campaign back on track, the hosts started much the better side and could have been in front very early on but Luis Barreto got his fingertips to in-form striker Edeh Chidi’s header, after Mumbai failed to clear their lines. Soon after, on 5 minutes, Mehtab Hussain took on a shot from 25 yards out after the visitors failed to close him down, but the effort rattled of the woodwork before being tipped over by Barreto in the Mumbai goal.
Mumbai were at sixes and sevens at the back and they eventually paid the price when Chidi gave East Bengal the lead in the 11th minute. The Red and Gold took a succession of shots on goal which were barely blocked by the visitors’ rearguard but they failed to get rid of the danger and finally the ball fell to Chidi who made no mistake from yards out.
The men from the west struggled to get out of their own half for most of the first period but they grew into the game as time went on. Their first real chance came on 20 minutes, when after some nice build play, ND Opara set up Yusif Yakubu, but the frontman produced a weak effort that did not trouble the keeper.
In the 29 minute, the ball once again found itself at the feet of the lanky Chidi, he sprinted down the right and sent in a pinpoint cutback but Robin Singh’s shot was brilliantly palmed away by Barreto, who was seemingly carrying an injury.
Khalid Jamil’s men were now having more of a say in the contest and they should have been level on 43 minutes, when Nicholas Rodrigues floated in a dangerous free-kick that flashed across the box and into the keeper’s grasp, when even the slightest of touches from a yellow shirt would have resulted in a goal.
However, truth be told, Mumbai will have considered themselves extremely fortunate to be going into the break only a goal down.
The match opened up in the second half as the visitors pushed for the equaliser and after some end-to- end action, the Red and Gold found their insurance goal 7 minutes after the break thanks to a wonder strike from Lalrindika Ralte.
Following another patient exchange of passes in the midfield the ball was played into Ralte’s feet and he unleashed an absolute rocket of a shot on his left leg from 25 yards and the ball swerved and dipped as it nestled into the bottom corner leaving the Mumbai custodian with no chance.
Minutes later, Penn Orji cleverly found his way into the box and his shot was blocked with Chidi lurking, before Ralte tried another shot from a similar distance. But, this time his effort curled wide. In the 60th minute, Orji’s clever play forced another corner and Ralte headed over when he was completely unmarked in the box.
Mumbai’s afternoon went from bad to worse after defender Peter Costa was taken off with a suspected hamstring injury.
The visitors created one of their few clear opportunities in the second period when on 73 minutes, Fernandes set up Yakubu after a rare passing move, but the forward’s shot was tipped away by Mondal. Then with 8 minutes to go, Rodrigues played in another accurate free-kick but Evans Quao could not apply the simplest of finishes as he shot wide.
Chidi had the chance to add the icing on the cake when the referee awarded a penalty following Fakruddin Amiri’s clumsy challenge on him in the 85th minute. However, the striker surprisingly shot wide to the left after sending the keeper the wrong way.
Overall, the visitors failed to hold their own for large proportions of the game and Trevor Morgan’s side ran out deserved 2-0 winners.
With the win East Bengal re-establish their title credentials and are second with 30 points from 15 games. Meanwhile, Mumbai stay sixth with 20 points from 14 games.
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