I-League 2018-19: Enrique Esqueda stars as East Bengal knock Real Kashmir out of title race

Jaime Colado East Bengal
Real Kashmir go down to Kolkata giants...

Real Kashmir's hopes of winning the I-League title were dashed by East Bengal as the Red Golds earned a hard fought 2-1 victory.

Enrique Esqueda (20') opened the scoring while Jaime Santos (43') scored the insurance goal. Aaron Katebe (67') pulled one back from the spot but it was not enough to salvage something for the hosts. 

David Robertson made made two changes to his side that drew 2-2 against Indian Arrows in their last match. Gnohere Krizo and Farhan Ganie was relegated to the bench as Abednego Tetteh and Vicky Metei started ahead of them.

Whereas, Alejandro Menendez made three alterations to the side that dropped points against Aizawl. Manoj Mohammad and Salam Ranjan Singh made way for Kamalpreet Singh and Jhonny Acosta respectively, and Brandon Vanlalremdika came in place of a suspended Jobby Justin.

It was an evenly matched game in the opening 10 minutes but East Bengal slowly started taking control of midfield through Lalrindika Ralte and Jaime Santos.

On the 20th minute, Laldanmawia Ralte sent in an inch-perfect cross from the right flank which was headed home by an unmarked Esqueda.

Just before the half-hour mark, Abednego Tetteh was given the marching orders after the striker fouled Johnny Acosta and then showed dissent for getting booked.

East Bengal pinned Kashmir to the wall and made the most of their numerical advantage by getting an insurance goal just before the half-time. This time esqueda provided the assist while Santos volleyed past Bilal Khan in goal.

The Snow Leopards started the second half with renewed vigour and started seeing more of the ball. 

They pulled one back through Katebe when the Zambian scored from 12 yards out after Dagar fouled Bazie inside the box.

In the dying minutes of the match they got two gilt-edged chances but could not capitalise. Ritwik Das was guilty of mistiming his shot whereas Mason Robertson could not hit the target after latching on to a gift by Kassim Aidara.

With this win East Bengal mainain their title charge and will next face Minerva away from home on March 3.