I-League, as it happened: Espada goal earns East Bengal draw against Real Kashmir

Tune in for commentary and updates from the East Bengal vs Real Kashmir I-League clash being played at the Kalyani Municipality Ground.

East Bengal and Real Kashmir skippers line-up before kick-off.   -  Twitter @ILeagueOfficial

Hello and welcome to Sportstar's blog of the I-League 2019-20 clash between East Bengal and Real Kashmir. This is Aashin Prasad and I will bring you the updates which is being played at the Kalyani Municipality Stadium.

 

It ends 1-1! What an entertaining draw in what is both teams' first game of the season. Espada earned East Bengal a much-deserved equaliser with 15 minutes to go after a dominating second half display. RKFC and David Robertson will be happy with a point on the road.

90' + 3' - Higgintbotham with the corner but a foul is committed in the area and East Bengal can breathe easy. That's the last action of the match and the referee blows for the full-time whistle. There are plenty of angry East Bengal players surrounding the referee at the final whistle expressing their displeasure.

90' + 2' - Aidara fouls Krizo near the center circle. The free-kick leads to a corner for RKFC. Can it nick a winner right at the death?

Three minutes of added time.

90' - Krizo with a darting run from his own half into East Bengal's box and is seemingly brought down by Ambekar. The referee signals a free-kick for East Bengal.

86' - Consecutive corners for East Bengal -- taken by Santos and Mera -- before it goes behind for a RKFC goal-kick.

85' - Chesterpoul cuts in from the right and goes for a shot from distance which is way off target.

83' - First change for Real Kashmir. Ritwik Kumar is taken off for Chesterpoul Lyngdoh.

This is relentless stuff from the home side! Another dangerous corner kick is turned away from the RKFC box

80' - Samad Ali at right-back wins a corner for East Bengal. Oh my!! The corner was nearly headed into goal but is cleared away form the goalline! How close was that!?

And the broadcaster yet again changes the feed to the PSG-Strasbourg game to show the damn Edinson Cavani goal. We are back again with live action.

76' - GOAAAL!!! Marcos Jiminez ESPADA SCORES FOR EAST BENGAL! Mera again with some good work on the left side before a cross to the first post, this time, Espada is there to turn it into the net! He fires up the home crowd behind the goal!

74' - No changes yet for Real Kashmir. Juan Mera hangs in a cross to the far post but Espada can't get his head to it.

73' - Real Kashmir attacks through the wings but East Bengal fall back to clear out the crosses.

70' - Arashpreet Singh is the third Real Kashmir player to go into the book. RKFC clear the ball away from danger following a free-kick.

Pintu Mahata is also off for Samad Ali Mallick.

Right-back Kamalpreet Singh is replaced by Abhijit Sarkar. Three at the back for East Bengal.

66' - The ball falls to Juan Mera outside RKFC's box. He cuts inside and lets it fly from distance with a left-footed strike. The shot had enough power but it doesn't dip down in time.

64' - A ball over the top is turned across East Bengal's goal but no other RKFC forward is attacking it.

Abhijit Sarkar, who is on loan from ISL side Chennaiyin FC, will come on for East Bengal soon.

62' - Free-kick inside East Bengal's box against RKFC after a rare foray forward.

59' - Juan Mera with an inswinging free-kick on the face of goal which Mehtab somehow managed to lift it over the bar! East Bengal's poor finishing has let it down so far.

57' - What a chance for Espada! Lachenpa spills the ball inside the box which Espada collects, turns and fires it over the goal without much pressure from the defenders. He should have done better there.

55' - Santos with a superb pass into the area which needed a touch from Mahata to turn it into goal. East Bengal is piling on the pressure here.

It's full-house at the Kalyani Municipality Stadium expecting a winning start for East Bengal.

53' - Juan Mera ans Ambekar combine well in the left before the latter curls in a cross which Espada heads wide from the centre of the box.

51' - Ritwik with a slaloming run from the right side and earns a free-kick.

50' - East Bengal wins a free-kick on the left side after a poor challenge by Novin Gurung. Santos' free-kick is a poor one. Novin goes into the book.

46' - East Bengal with a big chance from the restart. Pintu with an inviting cross front he right which Santos misses with his header. But the ball falls to Mera, who fails to compose himself in front of goal.

We are back for the second half.

SECOND HALF

That's the last piece of action for the first half with the away side going into the break with a slender lead. We will be back for the second half in 15 minutes.

45' - East Bengal almost scores at the stroke of half-time! Superb build up play through the right side where Mahata sets up Espada with a chest down. The Spaniard strikes on the volley which is straight at Lachenpa! Either side of goal and that would have been 1-1!

44' - East Bengal is pushing hard for the equaliser without much luck. Santos' free-kick from the right is headed out by Mehtab Singh.

The broadcaster shows us a replay of the goal everyone missed live. Krizo drilled it into the right bottom corner with a long-range strike.

37' - Juan Mera's corner is palmed high away from the scrum in the six-yard area but Aidara directs it back on goal which is headed out from the goal-line by a Real Kashmir defender.

Krizo was the goal-scorer.

...... The stream switched to a PSG vs Strousbourg game and in the time Real Kashmir has scored the opening goal. This is just ridiculous! I am still not sure who scored the goal. Whoever is behind this, take a bow!

31' - Juan Mera nearly pulled off a stunning goal. He flicked a ling ball over his head with a back hell but the touch is too heavy. Lachenpa comes out to collect it.

Real Kashmir is pinned in its own box for the last 10-15 minutes.

29' - Juan Mera is running the show with Real Kashmir struggling to get the ball off him. Abhishek Ambekar swings in a low cross into the face of the box but there is no East Bengal forward attacking it.

25' - Juan Mera does well to make room to play in a cross into the box but Kateba heads it out of the box.

22' - Superb build up play from East Bengal moving the ball from right to left before Crespi finds Santos inside the box who feeds Mera inside the box. Mera takes a touch and before he could play in a cross looses his footing and Real Kashmir moves the ball away to safety.

19' - Pintu looks to evade challenges on the right byline but he struggles in the shoulder challenge with Arashpreet Singh and the ball goes behind for a goal kick.

17' - Bazie Armand nicks the ball cleanly off Santos, who was looking to break with two players in support. Crucial challenge that.

15' - Kasim Aidara heads the ball into the net from a free-kick but the ball had crossed the byline before it came back into play.. Goal kick for Real Kashmir.

14' - Juan Mera is brought down on the left flank by Ritwik Kumar Das and he is booked for his offence.

12' -  Santos drills it low to the edge of the box which Mera blasts over the bar.

11' - Santos and Juan Mera combine well on the left flank to win the first corner kick of the match.

9' -  Juan Mera wastes an opportunity by scuffing a free-kick while his teammates were expecting a better delivery inside the box.

7' - Santos turns with the ball outside RKFC's box but he can't find Jimene's run with the through ball. Lachenpa collects the ball comfortably.

The stands are nearly full and the home supporters are in full voice as East Bengal dominates the early proceedings. Real Kashmir is holding its lines well and waiting to pounce on the break through Higginbotham and Krizo.

3' - Tondonmba finds Mahata inside RKFC's box with a long ball. Mahata is forced away from the danger area before forcing a goal-kick from the move.

1' - East Bengal kicks off from right to left. East Bengal goes long to find Santos but ball flies into the hands of Lachenpa.

The sun has already set and the floodlights have taken full effect in Kalyani. Real Kashmir is in its blue kit.

FIRST HALF

16:52: Here's how the two side's will line-up today-

Real Kashmir FC - P. Lachenpa; A. Singh, A. Katebe, L. Enyinnaya, N. Gurung; R.K. Das, F. Ganie, B. Armand, Danish Farook' K. Higginbotham, G. Krizo

East Bengal - Ralte, Kamalpreet Singh, Crespi, Mehtab Singh, Ambekar, Pintu Mahata, Tondonmba Singh, Kassim Aidara, Juan Mera, Jaime Santos, Espada

16:41: In the same fixture last year, both teams played out a 1-1 draw. EB's Lalramchullova scored an own goal before Jobby Justin, formerly of this parish, equalised for the Red and Golds.

16.34: Less than 30 minutes to kick-off and there are no official announcements on the line-ups. I-League's official twitter account's only update is a 'selfie' of the Real Kashmir players...

PREVIEW

Last season's runner-up East Bengal begins its I-League campaign today against Real Kashmir. East Bengal had a strong season that saw it remain in contention for the title, but it eventually fell short by one point as Chennai City FC took home the title.

Real Kashmir, which became the firs club from Kashmir to play in the I-League, had a remarkable debut season as it soared to a creditable third-place finish, outdoing the likes of the more established clubs such as Mohun Bagan and Chruchill Brothers in the process.

- Numbers favour EB -

Under the guidance of coach Alejandro Menendez, the red-and-gold brigade drew with Real Kashmir at home and scored a victory in Srinagar last season - essentially meaning the Kashmir side is winless against theem. Could this be a psychological advantage for East Bengal?

Speaking ahead of the game, Menendez said, “Real Kashmir are a very solid and strong side, their defence is very compact. We are very well aware that they are a very competitive outfit. The onus now lies on us, we need to be really accurate and sharp whenever we have the chance to attack.

“We need to perform well in this match to enhance our chances and to get success in the league. Otherwise, things can get tricky towards the end of the season. I believe it is going to be a very tough game,” he added.

- Rejuvenated Real Kashmir raring to go -

Real Kashmir has been bolstered with the arrival of former NEROCA FC striker Singham Subash Singh and winger Kallum Michael Higginbotham, who comes in from Scottish Championship side Dunfermline Athletic Football Club.

And the side's coach Davis Robertson is confident of a good show. “Last season, we had a good season and defended well and had a very good defensive record. This season we have added more firepower and hope to score more goals this season.”

“East Bengal are a very tough side to play against they are stronger than last season. I think they will be one of the strongest teams this season,” he added.