East Bengal hold Kitchee SC 1-1 in AFC Cup

East Bengal pulled themselves back after a uninspiring start to hold last year's semifinalists Kitchee SC 1-1 in their group F fixture of the AFC Cup football tournament here on Tuesday.

East Bengal hold Kitchee SC 1-1 in AFC Cup

Kolkata: East Bengal pulled themselves back after a uninspiring start to hold last year's semifinalists Kitchee SC 1-1 in their group F fixture of the AFC Cup football tournament here on Tuesday.

Spanish marksman Juan Belencoso utilised a Jorge Tarres cross before burying his header past Abhijit Mondal from a close range to give the Hong Kong giants the lead at the half-way mark.

The visitors, however, missed at least half a dozen chances as they could not consolidate their lead as Martins brought the handful of supporters on its feet with his brilliant equaliser from a Dudu Omagbemi long header in the 74th minute at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan.

East Bengal, who were thrashed 1-4 by Johor Daru Ta'zim in the opening fixture, thus opened their account with one point while Kitchee remained in the lead with four points.

Having put up an insipid show through the first three quarters, East Bengal showed some urgency but a brilliant goalline save by Kitchee captain and right back Lo Kwan Yee in the 85th minute denied Martins a brace and what could have been a brilliant turnaround win for the red and gold brigade.

Incidentally, it was the same Kitchee captain who had came in the way of Martins to deny East Bengal the lead in the first shot at goal in a sixth minute move.

But thereafter, the Hong Kong heavyweights got themselves used to the bounce of the turf as they had more possession and looked to penetrate the East Bengal box more often.

Kitchee's second Spanish recruit Tarres almost doubled the lead in the 59th minute when he launched a powerful leftfooter but the crosspiece came to East Bengal rescue as the luck too smiled on the home side.

East Bengal goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal too should be credited for thwarting a surging Juan in the 63rd minute as the Spanish would also lament missing a sitter in front of an open net in the 72nd minute.

Just when it looked like East Bengal would suffer their second defeat, Martins took a long ball forward from a Dudu header against the run of play as the Nigerian deceived a Kitchee defender before dodging the goalkeeper to slot it home with a brilliant outstep.

East Bengal were earlier handed a 1-4 thrashing by Johor Darul Ta'Zim in Johor Bahru in their opening fixture on February 24.