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East Bengal down Churchill Brothers
February 13, 2003 20:03 IST
Title aspirants East Bengal consolidated their position atop the National Football League after scoring a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Churchill Brothers at the Nehru stadium in Margao, Goa, on Thursday.
After Churchill's Ratan Singh neutralised Douglas Silva dos Santos's first-half strike, man-of-the-match Alvito D'Cunha gave East Bengal an early lead in the second-half and Mike Okoro made the issue safe for the winners in the dying minutes of the match.
With this win, East Bengal have 33 points from 13 matches, a nine points clear over their nearest rivals Salgaocar, while Churchill remain in sixth position with 20 points from as many matches.
Churchill set the ball rolling, playing an aggressive game and holding more of the exchanges. They also created more scoring chances but their strikers let them down.
On the other hand, East Bengal played a waiting game and created three chances and scored from all of them.
Churchill's Yakubu Yusif, who played a steller role upfront, troubled the rival defence despite being tightly marked and sent passes to Benjamin Ansah. However, Ansah failed to cash in on the chances that came his way. Midway into the first-half, he had an open chance when he was set up by Roque Barreto but his header went astray.
After this close shave, East Bengal took the lead in the 27th minute when Douglas Silva dos Santos's pin-point header, off a free-kick by D'Cunha from the left, beat goalkeeper Edward Ansah all ends up.
Churchill made a counter move seven minutes later. Hardworking Yakubu sent a pass to Ratan Singh, who beat the off-side trap, cut past 'keeper Sandip Nandy and placed the ball into the net with an angular drive.
The teams went into the breather level 1-1.
After the change of ends, East Bengal regained the lead following a fine move down the left.
Medio Shasty Duley, accepting a pass from Douglas, relayed the ball to D'Cunha, who, after positioning himself, flicked the ball past 'keeper Ansah to find the far post.
Stung by the reverse, Churchill continued to apply pressure but failed to secure the equaliser as East Bengal packed their defence.
In the anxiety to find the equaliser, Churchill pushed more men upfront and with keeper Ansah also moving well up near the centre line, they conceded another goal.
A long clearance by an East Bengal player from his own half saw the ball going to Okoro who, seeing Ansah off his line, took a long shot to find the net.
Referee Manuel Pereira showed yellow cards to Churchill's Mahesh Gowali and Yakubu.