I-League: Esqueda brace sees East Bengal past NEROCA

Enrique Esqueda's heroics helped East Bengal script a comeback win against NEROCA after loan signing Chencho Gyeltshen opened the scoring.

East Bengal made most of the second-half chances to script a 2-1 win.   -  I-League

Enrique Esqueda fired two spectacular headers that saw East Bengal come back from a goal down to beat NEROCA FC 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday.

The visitor made early inroads and found the lead through its Bengaluru FC import Chencho Gyeltshen but could not hold on to the advantage as the host made a strong comeback in the second session to overturn the result. Esqueda made a fine comeback from injury and put the finishing touch on two of the team’s second-half attacks to secure three points for East Bengal.

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The win brightened East Bengal’s title hopes taking the team to the fourth spot with 28 points with two games in hand. NEROCA made a strong start surprising the host with a goal in the third minute of the action. Chencho made his debut memorable as he slotted home the first opportunity coming his way. The Bhutanese striker found the mark after Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa’s corner deflected off an East Bengal defender to present him with the chance.

East Bengal's Esqueda won the Hero of the match award in the previous leg against NEROCA.   -  I-League



Looking to pick up full points on gaining the early lead, NEROCA slipped into a defensive mode after the first quarter of the action. This gave East Bengal a greater control over the midfield as the home side plotted a comeback. Intensifying the pressure on its opponent after the interval, East Bengal made quick inroads into the striking zone frequently. Jobby Justin failed to convert a couple of chances coming his way. However, a curling cross from Jaime Santos foxed the NEROCA defence giving Esqueda a clear look at the goal and the Spaniard made no mistake with his header in the 67th minute.

East Bengal continued the hunt for the winner and found it late in the 86th minute when Samad Ali Mallick came up the right flank to set up a cross on the NEROCA goalmouth. Esqueda got himself in the right position to divert the cross into the net with a fine effort. East Bengal next travels to Srinagar to play Real Kashmir FC on Sunday.

The result:

East Bengal 2 (Enrique Esqueda 67', 86') bt NEROCA FC 1 (Chencho Gyeltshen 3')

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