East Bengal move past HAL 2-0
Kolkata: East Bengal lifted themselves up from a gloomy first-half, firing in two late goals to blank HAL, Bangalore in their return leg I-League fixture at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Saturday.
Saumik Dey provided the crucial opening in the 68th minute with a sharp header while Orji Penn doubled the lead in the dying minutes, much to the relief of the home support.
The win helped East Bengal (33) jump past leaders Dempo (30) in the standings though the latter were yet to play their 16th round fixture against Shillong Lajong FC tomorrow.
East Bengal, who had routed HAL 8-1 in the first-leg, found themselves in rough waters with a spirited challenge from the Bangalore rivals.
The bottom-placed side who are yet to win from 15 matches kept East Bengal under intense pressure early on and almost took the lead in the 20th minute but Gurpreet Singh did a neat work under the bar to avoid a disaster.
R C Prakash brilliantly took a volley but an alert Gurpreet punched the ball away to safety as they kept on attacking, while East Bengal looked clueless in the first 45 minutes.
Immediately after the break, HAL once again had a couple of fine opportunities from corners but Mehtab Hussain and Uga Okpara defended well.
But soon, Dey provided a much-needed relief for an anxious-looking coach Trevor Morgan with a superb header.
Captain Sanju Pradhan placed the ball well with a neat centre from right as Dey found the back of the net putting a stop to HAL`s raids.
Two minutes later, Okpara almost doubled the lead from a similar position from a Pradhan spot kick but his header was off target.
Morgan once again brought in their latest recruit Edmilson in the 76th minute in place of Tolgay Ozbey, something that worked well for the red-and-gold brigade.
After getting the supply from Hussain, Edmilson provided an unselfish cross from the left to Penn who scored in the open net without much fuss.
It was another blow to HAL`s sagging fortunes as they suffered their 13th losses to lie at the bottom of the table with three points.