East Bengal survived anxious moments before finishing goalless with Mukti Joddha Sansad of Bangladesh in their opening AFC Cup match in Kolkata on Wednesday.
The woodwork saved the Kolkata outfit the blushes once while their defenders effected two goalline saves during the latter stages of the opening half as the visitors planned their attacks around the throwing prowess of midfielder Belal Ahmed.
Belal repeatedly caused terror in the East Bengal box with his deep and measured throws, as Mukti Joddha strikers Md Saiful Islam Saif and Rokonuzzaman Kanchan went for the follow-up header.
In the 29th minute, one of Belal's throws from the left caught the East Bengal defence napping and Kanchan took a quick header which hit the post, much to the relief of the spectators.
Belal again showed his mastery in the 41st minute when a deep throw from the left was met with a header by Saif but East Bengal central defender Selwyn Fernandes made a goalline save.
Muktijoddha players, however, claimed that the ball had crossed the goalline but referee Chynybekov Kadypbek of Kyrgyzsthan did not oblige.
More trouble was in store for the home side as Belal's measured throw from the right two minutes later reached Kanchan, who took a low header but Climax Lawrence returned the ball from near the goalline before Chandan Das made the final clearance.