Panaji: East Bengal scored twice in the first half to notch up a convincing 2-0 win over Churchill Brothers in the third round of the Hero I-League, played at Tilak Stadium, here on Wednesday.
East Bengal, who held more of the ball possession, scored through Thongkhosiem Haokip (31st minute) and Lalrindika Ralte (45+1).
The win will take East Bengal to seven points, two points behind leader Mohun Bagan (9pts), while Churchill Brothers, who lost all their three matches, are yet to open their account.
Churchill Brothers midfield once again lacked the creativity to trouble the rival defence. Assistant coach Alfred Fernandes expected a lot from striker Anthony Wolfe but he could not do much except for a couple of shots which lacked direction.
Once he nicely put Agnelo Colaco with a through pass in the second half but his shot hit the post. Both the teams took time to settle down. There was plenty of miss passes initially as both the teams failed to penetrate into each other’s citadel as play was confined in the midfield.
East Bengal who slowly settled down and as the match wore on looked more threatening as they attacked more from the right with Poojary sending dangerous crosses which rival defender Adil Khan dealt well.
East Bengal had the first real chance in the 16th minute when Mehtab Hussain who moved on the top laid a pass to Trinidad and Tobago striker inside the box but he miscued his shot which went abegging.
East Bengal finally opened the account in the 31st minute. Pooary, who moved to the top from the right, send a cross which was intercepted by defender Adil Khan, the ball came back to Poojaray who again floated the ball into the box for Thongkhosiem Haokip who headed into the net.
Lalrindika Ralte, who troubled the rival defence, then increased the lead in the stoppage time of the first half when his curling shot from a corner found the net.
Churchill Brothers, who lost both their matches, made three changes from their last match against Mumbai FC but could not trouble the rival defence except for a 30-yard shot from Brandon Fernandes which rival keeper T P Rehenesh tipped over.
The change of ends saw East Bengal doing most of the probing and they had two clear chances to swell the lead but first Wedson Anselme who saw the keeper come out of his charge tried to lob the ball but his shot went out from close and latter Ivan Bukenya headed wide off the mark of a well-directed corner by Mehtab Hossain.