Sixteen times champion Emami East Bengal started its latest Durand Cup campaign on a placid note by playing a goalless draw with a defensive Indian Navy side in a Group B league match at the Salt Lake Stadium on Monday.
RELATED: HIGHLIGHTS - Indian Navy holds Emami East Bengal down to a goalless draw
Playing under the charge of the former national coach, Stephen Constantine, East Bengal failed to pick up the desired tempo and did the chasing for most of the first half as the Navy men enjoyed a greater possession of the ball. Both sides' finishing remained much to be desired as a goal remained elusive to both.
Having started the team building and preparations for the season much later than the other Indian Super League sides, East Bengal’s struggles on the field appeared obvious against a defensively organised, fit Navy side.
The first good chance for East Bengal came in the 54th minute when Sumeet Passi tried a rasping long-ranger from around 25 yards, only to find the upright of the Navy goal coming in the way. East Bengal did well in the middle of the park following the change of ends as its Brazilian substitute Alex Lima spruced up the distribution process in the striking zone.
But with its men in the attack – V.P. Suhair and Passi - floundering in the opposition box, East Bengal’s agony of not finding the target despite opening up some good chances got prolonged till the end.
Hyderabad FC trumps TRAU FC 2-0 to begin Durand Cup campaign
Indian Super League champion Hyderabad FC showed its class as it beat Trau 2-0 in its opening Group C match of the Durand Cup football tournament at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal on Monday.
HIGHLIGHTS: Halicharan Narzary, Borja Gonzalez goals helps HFC beat TRAU FC
Halicharan Nazary drew first blood in the 28th minute and Borja Gonzalez scored the second in the 53rd minute to script Hyderabad's convincing win.
Hyderabad gathered three points from its first outing, while Trau suffered its second defeat in a row.
The experienced Hyderabad side had a better share of control over the ball and the match.
Even though Trau created some fine moves initially, it could not pose any real threat due to the solidity of the Hyderabad defenders -- including its captain Nikhil Poojary and Chinglensana Singh.
Hyderabad maintained its composure while looking for a breakthrough. It got one when Nazary pounced on a loose ball and curled it in from about 25 yards.
After the change of ends, Hyderabad widened its lead through Borja's stunner. The Spaniard received the ball from the right and shot home a left-footed long ranger to apply brakes on the spirited Trau.
The sheer difference in class was apparent as Hyderabad, which gave game time to some of its foreign recruits, launched plenty of attacks.
However, it couldn't score anymore, as the ball either ricocheted off the goalpost or was saved by the efficient Bishorjit.