East Bengal beat Indian Arrows 2-1 in a hard-fought I-League match to remain in contention for the title at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday.
Laldanmawia (penalty) and Jobby Justin scored for East Bengal in the 26th and 64th minute respectively, while Ninthoi (penalty) was the lone scorer for Indian Arrows in the 90th minute.
With the win, East Bengal are at fourth spot with 19 points from 10 matches. Indian Arrows are at ninth place with 10 points in the 11-team league table.
The first half saw both teams making equal number of attempts and played being confined to the mid-field.
However, it was the Arrows who were the first to get a real chance to score when a long ball pass from Rahul KP was collected well by Vikram Pratap leading to a beautiful cross from the right, but unfortunately, he could not direct his shot properly.
East Bengal, on the other hand, were trying to pick opportunities on the counter. Their experience soon came to play when Jaime Santos played a fantastic pass from the left into the Arrows box to Laldanmaiwa who made no mistakes in finding the back of the net, giving East Bengal a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute.
Thereafter, East Bengal started pressing hard and they were rewarded again in 30th minute when an unnecessary foul from Indian Arrows defender Jitendra Singh was made on Laldanmaiwa inside the box.
Didicka, who took the penalty, failed to double the lead for his side thanks to a fantastic save from Indian Arrows goalkepper Prabhsukhan Gill.
East Bengal made a few more attempts to increase their lead but failed to breach into the Arrows defence line.
The second half began with the Indian Arrows pressing hard. Their attacks, in regular intervals, did create some trouble for East Bengal, but the lack of a finishing from the Arrows forwards kept them away from scoring an equaliser.
East Bengal, however, slowly came back to their attacking ways exploiting the occasional defensive lapses, but were not successful in getting their second goal.
However, the Arrows were soon punished for their errors inside their own box when Jobby Justin scored East Bengal’s second goal in the 64th minute on a rebound which Arrows goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill failed to collect properly while saving an attempt to score from Samad.
The game suddenly took a physical turn and two red cards were shown by the referee in the second half, one to East Bengal’s Lalram Chullova in the 56th minute, and then in the 84th minute to Aniket Jadhav of Indian Arrows (second yellow card).
The Arrows, however, did not give up and kept on with their attacks, hoping to reduce the two-goal deficit. Their efforts were soon rewarded when a foul on Ashish Rai by East Bengal’s Manoj ensured the hosts a penalty in the 89th minute.
Ninthoi took the penalty to score for the Arrows in the 90th minute, bringing the scoreline to 1-2, still in favour of the visitors.
Arrows did create a few attempts to find an equaliser, but East Bengal ensured that the young hosts posted no further threat to their lead, thereby bagging the three points.