Kolkata: East Bengal`s chances of progressing to the next round of the AFC Cup football tournament received a further jolt as they were blanked 0-2 by Iraqi outfit Arbil SC in a Group B match on Wednesday.
The local giants suffered their third successive loss in the tournament having beaten 0-1 by Al Orouba of Yemen and 0-3 by Kazma of Kuwait in their earlier two group matches.
Playing under scorching heat and humid condition on the artificial turf of Yuba Bharati Krirangan, the Iraqi outfit struggled to get going in the first half.
They kept the slate clean with a defensive strategy as the first 45 minutes saw them acclimatise to unfamiliar conditions before striking twice in the second half.
East Bengal, on the other hand, struggled to get going even with the return of playmaker Mehtab Hossain as poor finishing cost them dear.
Tolgay Ozbey had a few brilliant strikes but the Arbil defenders thwarted all his efforts.
The Iraqi outfit drew the first blood in the 76th minute when a Amjad Radhi header from a clinical cross by Nadim Sabag set the ball rolling.
Their experienced Syrian recruit Abdelrazaq Al Hussain completed the tally with a brilliant solo effort in the 90+3rd minute.
With two draws and their first win today, Arbil`s AFC Cup campaign returned on track as they have five points from three outings.
Yet to open their account, East Bengal remained at the bottom of the group standings.
The two teams meet in the return leg in Arbil on April 10.