EB reduce gap with leaders Dempo, keep title hope alive

Kolkata: City giants East Bengal kept their title hopes alive with a thrilling 3-1 victory over Mumbai FC in a 22nd round I-League match at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Friday.

After conceding a goal in the 4th minute, the red and gold brigade fired two quick goals in the 21st and 25th minutes respectively and then scored another one towards the end to record their second straight win.

East Bengal thus jumped to second place with 41 points from 42 matches, five points behind Dempo, who have a game in the 22nd round against Mohun Bagan here on Sunday.

Mumbai FC remained at 17 points from 22 outings to hang in the relegation zone.

Desperately needing a win, Mumbai FC fired first salvo in a set piece move when winger Nicholas Rodrigues found net in a melee in the 4th minute.

Stung by the reverse, Trevor James Morgan coached boys came back strongly with Tolgay Ozbay firing his 15th goal of the tournament as he converted a penalty in the 21st minute after Mumbai FC medio Cavin Lobo tripped him inside the box.

East Bengal`s second goal came within four minutes when left winger Robin Singh got an aerial ball from Baljit Singh Sahni, dodged past a defender and beat rival keeper Kishan Debnath to take the lead.

East Bengal then upped the ante and sealed the issue when Edmilson Marques, who came in the late second half in place of Tolgay Ozbay, headed home four minutes from the end.

Mumbai FC had two good opportunities early in the second half but Nigerian striker Gbeneme Friday missed the sitter with only goalkeeper Sandip Nandy in the guard.