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East Bengal turn tables on Dempo
April 16, 2006 19:10 IST
Last Updated: April 16, 2006 20:35 IST
Down by a first-half goal, leaders East Bengal rallied splendidly to whip holders Dempo Sports Club, Goa, 3-1 in the 10th National Football League at the Cooperage ground in Mumbai on Sunday.
After being in arrears following a 35th minute strike by the crafty Johnny D'Cruz, the glamourous outfit from Kolkata pumped in three goals in 21 minutes after making telling second-half substitutions to emerge convincing victors.
The goal-scorers for the red and yellow brigade were captain Baichung Bhutia (64th minute), who was marked out in the first half, man of the match Syed Rahim Nabi (71st) and substitute Dipankar Roy (80th).
Dempo have to blame their foreign recruit Ranti Martins for the loss as the striker was guilty of spurning three gilt-edged chances after the Goans went into the lead.
Martins, the top goal-scorer in the league with ten to his credit going into today's tie, muffed sitters in the 40th, 45th and 60th minutes of the tie - with the East Bengal defence at his mercy.
This was East Bengal's eighth win and took their points tally to 27 from 12 games, thus maintaining their four-point advantage over second placed Mahindra United of Mumbai. Dempo remained in fifth spot with 19 points from 13 matches. It was their fourth loss in the league.
Dempo had a slight edge over East Bengal, who had beaten them earlier 5-3 last month in Kolkata, in the first half with Martins especially looking dangerous.
The Goan outfit took the lead ten minutes before the breather when D'Cruz took possession of a throw-in from the right well inside the penalty area and volleyed home.
Martins should have increased the tally to 3-0 by half time, but missed both chances to score. He laid a shallow diagonal pass to D'Cruz and then got it back only to shoot wide with the East Bengal custodian Abhra Mondal out of position.
Soon after and just before the breather he shot over the bar after a 1-2 with D'Cruz had fooled the EB custodian.
Martins then muffed another sitter in the second half after getting past a defender and sidestepping the goalkeeper only to delay taking a shot, giving Mondal the chance to recover and snatch the ball off his feet.
Alvita D'Cunha's second half entry galvanised East Bengal and they moved purposefully. Bhutia, getting some more space, struck in splendid fashion by pivoting on his heel to shoot in from an acute angle to the far corner to bring parity.
The Kolkata team then took complete control and moved ahead when Nabi headed in a corner, the third successive one, taken by D'Cunha who then laid a splendid defence-splitting through for substitute Dipankar Roy to back heel the ball n past Dempo goalpeeper Abhijit Mondal and complete the tally.