Title aspirants East Bengal received another jolt in their I-league campaign as Mumbai FC beat them 2-1 in a 16th round encounter at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan, here on Sunday.
Henry Ezeh slotted home in the 11th minute with a stunning right footer and then set up the second goal as the Mumbai outfit logged home full points from the match.
Leading by 1-0, Henry who had also scored against East Bengal during the first-leg then set one up for Ebi Sukure whose powerful grounder beat Sandip Nandy in the 25th minute.
Young Biswarup Deb reduced the margin during the dying moments cashing in on a defensive lapse.
East Bengal could not field their full stregth team because of card and injury problems. The absence of Uga Okpara in the defence and Tolgay Ozbey upfront were sorely felt.
Soon after the kick-off, East Bengal considerably took control over the game with the new line up, but in a quick counter attack Henry Ezeh`s first attempt upset the hosts` plan.
In the absence of Okpara, Ozbey, Mehtab Hossain and Penn Orji, the red and gold brigade looked a shadow of their past despite coach Trevor James Morgan trying to make the most of his available resources.
India internationals Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Sayed Rahim Nabi, along with youngsters Nirmal Chettri, Ravinder Kumar, Sunil Kumar, Sanju Pradhan, Baljit Singh Sahni and Robin Singh were clueless against the visitors.
Another foreign recruit Alexander Santos from Brazil was not comfortable on astro turf and was quickly replaced after he pulled a muscle in the first half.
The two defeat means that East Bengal have managed only a point from their last three matches and this can seriously jeopardise their chances of winning the coveted title.
With this win, Mumbai FC came up to the fifth position with 27 points from 16 games, ahead of Mohun Bagan`s 25 points from 17 games.
East Bengal continue to remain on 32 points from 16 matches as Salgaocar SC remain on top with 40 points, followed by Churchill Brothers with 33 from 17 games and Dempo SC with 31 points from 16 matches.
In fact East Bengal hardly tested Mumbai FC goalkeeper Ishan Debnath throughout the game having got only three chances in the entire game.
The first chance to reduce the margin came in the 43rd minute when Robin Singh was a touch late in reacting with Debnath at his mercy. The Mumbai FC goalie got a chance to foil Robin`s attempt.
And then Baljit Singh Sahni attempted twice without any favourable outcome.