East Bengal’s fortress Barasat was sacked as the I-League football leaders suffered their first defeat at home with Churchill Brothers securing a fine 2-1 win at the Vidyasagar Krirangan.
Churchill Brothers dominated the first 40 minutes with captain Anthony Wolfe (7th) and Ansumana Kromah (34th) handing a stunning 2-0 lead.
But Willis Plaza’s introduction as a 36th minute substitution stepped up the home team’s tempo as they finally pulled one back when Chris Payne (67th) fired one into the far corner after being fed by Robin Singh.
This was a third win for the Goans in their last four outings after Derick Pereira took over as coach as they looked to break into top five. They now trailed fourth and fifth placed Bengaluru FC (16) and Shillong Lajong (16) by one point.
Churchill defeated Mohun Bagan (21 points from 10 matches) by an identical margin in the last round and the loss for East Bengal (27 from 13) today would mean a big blow for the title aspirations of the city’s ‘Big Two’.
This was East Bengal’s second defeat this season.
Surprise package of the season, Aizawl FC inflicted East Bengal their first defeat when the Mizoram outfit won 1-0 at home on February 20.
Churchill skipper and Trinidadian forward, Wolfe, easily slotted the ball home in front of an open net after goalkeeper TP Rehenesh and defender Anwar Ali made a blunder.
In yet another display of defensive lapse, Wolfe got the better of Bukenya down the left before setting up a fantastic ball to the Liberian who went past the defence easily with his dribbling skills to stun the crowd with Churchill’s second goal in less than 30 minutes.
By the 51st minute, East Bengal had used all their substitutes with Morgan showing a sense of urgency by bringing a fit-again Plaza from the bench.
East Bengal looked a transformed side in the second half but could not make use of any of the opportunity.
In the 89th minute, a regulation corner from Mehtab Hossain had them a chance with Plaza almost sneaking in before Churchill substitute Pankaj Sona made a goal-line save.
Plaza wasted another opportunity in the 74th minute after being set up by Robin but the Trinidadian smashed the ball wayward.
East Bengal also survived an injury scare when their central defender Arnab Mondal collided with Wolfe in the 56th minute. Mondal needed bandage on his head but he was back on the pitch in a few minutes.