I League 2017: East Bengal 5-1 Shillong Lajong: Five-star Red and Golds launch title hunt
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Khalid Jamil's men put up an inspired performance against Shillong Lajong to send a message to their critics...

East Bengal redeemed themselves from last Sunday's derby loss by puting five goals past Shillong Lajong at the Barasat Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday to notch a 5-1 win.

Goals from Al Amna, Eduardo Ferreira, Katsumi Yusa and a brace from Laldanmawia Ralte sealed a memorable victory for East Bengal. The consolation goal for Shillong Lajong was scored from a free-kick by skipper Samuel Lalmuanpuia. 

Khalid Jamil made five changes to the starting eleven that took to the field against Mohun Bagan. Mirshad replaced Luis Barreto in goal whereas Arnab Mondal was brought in at the back, replacing Gurwinder Singh. Both wing backs Deepak Kumar and Mehtab Singh were sacrificed and Salam Ranjan Singh along with Prakash Sarkar was deployed at the right and left back positions respectively. Cavin Lobo was also handed a surprise start in place of Brandon Vanlalremdika in midfield.

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The North-Eastern side made only one change to their line up that faced Chuchill Brothers with Ivorian Abdoulaye Koffi being replaced by F. Lalrohlua.

Lajong got the first sniff of goal when skipper Samuel Lalmuanpuia's free-kick from 30 yards whistled just over the cross bar and landed on top of the net. 

East Bengal grew into the game and their first attempt at goal saw Cavin Lobo send a shot high and wide. The Red and Golds  kept up the pressure with successive corners but Lajong's defensive duo of Juho Oh and Laurence Doe remained vigilant in the opening minutes.

In the 10th minute, Willis Plaza missed a simple chance after he was played in by Al Amnah from inside the box. The Trinidadian failed to take a shot first time, giving Odafin enough time to retreat and clear the danger. 

It was Al Amna who drew first blood for East Bengal in the 14th minute after he twisted and turned before outfoxing Doe and firing in a powerful shot, which took a heavy deflection of Rakesh Pradhan before nestling in the back of the net. 

East Bengal was quick to double the lead in the 19th minute from a Katsumi Yusa corner which was headed in by Eduardo Ferreira, reaping benefit from a period of sustained pressure. 

A loud shout  for a penalty was turned down by referee Santhil Nathan S when Yusa was brought down inside the box by Juho shortly afterwards. 

East Bengal started the second half with a flurry of attacks, making it clear that they were hungry for goals. 

They did not have to wait for their third as Amnah, once again, split open Lajong's defence with an incisive through ball for Ralte, who kept his cool to go past Lachenpa before slotting it into the net.

East Bengal continued to dominate proceedings at Barasat and they bagged their fourth in the 64th minute when Ralte once again made Lajong pay for a defensive error. Doe's clearance hit his  skipper Samuel and the rebound fell to Ralte who scored his second by beating Lachenpa with ease. 

The young Lajong side lacked creative inspiration and after conceding the fourth, their shoulders dropped. They struggled profusely against an East Bengal side who had a point to prove. 

But it was another disappointing night for Plaza who missed clear chances and was substituted on the 75th minute by Charles D'Souza. 

Drama was not over yet as Redeem Tlang bundled into Ralte inside the box and this time the referee did not hesitate to point towards the spot. Katsumi Yusa stepped up and scored the fifth for East Bengal, ending any hope of a comeback for the Reds. 

Lajong pulled one back in the dying minutes of the match, via a sublime curling free-kick taken by Samuel, but it was too little too late for Nongbet's men. 

This win should give Jamil a much needed breathing space before they take on Churchill Brothers on December 16. 

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