Cuttack: East Bengal returned to winning ways after beating Indian Arrows 2-1 at the Kalinga STadium on Tuesday afternoon.
It was an eventful match as the 90 minutes were etched with three goals, a missed penalty and two red cards. Danmawia Ralte (26′) broke the deadlock and the lead was doubled by Joby Justin (64′). Ninthoi Meetei (90′) pulled one back from the spot but it was too litlle too late to salvage anything for his team.
Referee Senthil Nathan S had to show the red card on two occasions once to each side. Lalram Chullova was the first offender while Aniket Jadhav lasted for around 200 seconds after coming on from the bench.
Flyod Pinto made three changes to the side that snatched a 1-0 victory against Aizawl as Meetei, Lalengmawia and and Rohit Danu were relegated to the bench. They were replaced by Vikram Pratap, Suresh Singh and Sanjeev Stalin in the starting line-up.
Meanwhile, Antonio Dovale made his debut for East Bengal and slotted in as a typical number 10 just behind Jobby Justin who was operating as a single striker. East Bengal started the match on the ascendancy and continued their domination throughout the first half. Indian Arrows were defending deep and did pretty well in soaking up the initial pressure.
East Bengal toiled hard in the opening 25 minutes and they were rewarded for their hard work when DanmawiaRalte found the back of the net after he wrapped his laces to a cross by Jaime Santos Colado from the left flank.
The goal did not change the script of the match as East Bengal began their hunt for the insurance goal after scoring the opener. They did get the opportunity to double the lead when Danmawia was brought down by Jitendra inside the box but Lalrindika Ralte failed to convert from 12 yards.
Pinto brought on Rohit Danu at the start of second-half sacrificing Anwar Ali to sharpen their attack. They indeed looked the more threatening side for the opening 15 minutes after resumption but their fizz soon fizzled out and East Bengal regained control of the match.
Lalram Chullova was shown a straight red after the former Aizawl FC defender headbutted Rahul, which means that the Red and Gold will have to do without his services when they take on league leaders Chennai City FC next.
In the 64th minute Dovale showed his class in his debut match when he sliced open Arrows’ defence with a lobbed long ball to find Samad Ali. The substitute rifled a shot at goal which was stopped by Gill but the rebound fell for Jobby Justin who passed the ball into an empty net.
Aniket Jadhav was brought on the 82nd minute but he could last for less than four minutes as he picked up two yellows within that short span of time. First, he lashed out at Kasim Aidara without the ball and a minute later he clipped Samad from behind to get his marching orders.
At the nick of regulation time Asish Rai was brought down inside the 18-yard box by Manoj Mohammed which allowed Arrows to get a consolation goal. Meetei stepped and placed his shot beyond the reach of Rakshit Dagar who in spite of guessing the right direction could not get a hand to it.
East Bengal climb to the fourth position with 19 points and will travel further South to face Chennai City on January 14, while Indian Arrows will also hit the road to take on Shillong Lajong a day earlier.