Kolkata: East Bengal suffered a heartbreak in their homecoming as Chennai City FC secured a 2-1 victory to consolidate their lead in the I-League here Tuesday. Chennai’s Spanish recruit Sandro Rodriquez Felipe (45+2nd) drew first blood before Enrique Esqueda drew level seven minutes after the changeover.
Chennai’s other Spaniard Nestor Gordillo scored the winner, converting from the spot in the 87th minute to halt East Bengal’s two-match winning run. Chennai now have 10 points from four games, four points clear of East Bengal who have a game in hand. The visitors also were boosted by the return of I-League leading-scorer Pedro Manzi, who was down with a lower hamstring injury.
Chennai made their intentions clear from the beginning, making the game’s first foray in the fourth minute itself when Nestor and Manzi combined to release Pravitto Raju inside the box but Rakshit Dagar in the East Bengal goal was up to the task.
Dagar again staved off two possibly dangerous moves by Chennai around the quarter of an hour mark in the first half. Then in the 20th minute, Lalrindika Ralte gave the ball away in the East Bengal deep defence and Sandro latched onto it to put it in the way of Manzi inside the box, but his placement was not up to the mark.
As the Chennai Spaniards, Nestor, Sandro and Manzi kept combining dangerously, coach Alejandro Garcia of East Bengal made an early change, bringing in Surabuddin Mallick in place of Laldanmawia Ralte in the 38th minute.
East Bengal began the second half with urgency and were immediately rewarded. Jobby Justin put Surabuddin through on the right and his cross from inside the box beat the Chennai defence and goalkeeper Kabir, deflected off Johny Acosta and fell to Mexican striker Enrique Esqueda who slotted in calmly.