East Bengal and Churchill Brothers played out a 1-1 draw in the opening match of the Federation Cup football tournament in Cuttack on Sunday.
In a tightly contested encounter, East Bengal took the lead in the 65th minute through Wedson Anselme but Ghanefo Kromah equalised in the 80th minute as the two sides shared the spoils at the Barabati Stadium.
The first half saw end-to-end action and no side could come up on top at the breather. East Bengal wasted the first goal scoring chance of the match in the 12th minute as Willis Plaza broke free of his defensive shackles but failed to convert from close range.
Churchill Brothers, sitting deep and playing on counters, got their chance in the 20th minute. Anthony Wolfe latched onto a lobbed through ball but Subhashish came off his lines before he could release the shot inside the box.
Although East Bengal dominated the first half with 11 shots as compared to Churchill’s four, both teams went into the tunnel on level terms.
Substitute Pankaj Sona was handed a brilliant opportunity to open the goal scoring for Churchill but the forward failed to check his run and was caught offside in the 51st minute. Four minutes later, Brandon Fernandes fluffed his shot from inside the box to add to Churchill’s attacking woes.
In the 65th minute, Wedson Anselme broke the deadlock after he latched onto a through ball from Bikash Jairu and brushed off three opposition defenders before side-footing the ball into the back of the net to give East Bengal the lead.
Although Churchill fought valiantly, the Goan outfit failed to get past a solid and experienced East Bengal defence.
But in the 80th minute, callous defending by East Bengal led Churchill to equalise when Kromah capitalised on a cut back pass and scored without any pressure.