Barasat: East Bengal rode on a Ranty Martins strike to pip debutants DSK Shivajians by a solitary goal in the I-League football tournament at the Vidyasagar Krirangan here today.
The Nigerian struck the all-important goal at the halfway mark from the rebound after Mohammad Rafique's shot from a corner kick hit the crosspiece.
The qualifiers from Pune were impressive in the second period and very nearly brought on their first I-League goal and the equaliser in the 73rd minute.
But the crosspiece came to the rescue of a lucky red and gold brigade who returned unscathed and with three points in their kitty.
Mohammad Rafi's throw-in was cleared off by Saumik Dey but Shivajians mideo Israil Gurung took the possession and shot it in the path of East Bengal defender Bello Rasaq whose deflection hit the bar.
Shivajians kept East Bengal on the edge with their raids but the Derrick Pereira coached side solely missed a natural goal scorer as they struggled to get their first goal.
Having returned to winning ways after two matches, East Bengal climbed to second place with eight points from four outings, one point adrift of former champions Bengaluru FC who sit on the summit with one match in hand.
Earlier the match got off to a dull start with the play restricted to the midfield before Ranty added the much needed spark with his goal that took his tally to four to join Mohun Bagan's Cornell Glen in the top scorers' chart.
East Bengal too had several chances that went abegging and most of them came from their South Korean recruit Do Dong Hyun who was later adjudged man-of-the-match.
Just after the break Dong cut through two Shivajians defenders from the left but he failed to keep it in the target with his angular shot missing the far post by a few inches.
The South Korean missed another sitter in the 76th minute after he was set up by Joaquim Abranches but it did not matter much in the end as the red and gold brigade held on to their slender lead.
East Bengal next face former champions Bengaluru FC at home Saturday.