I-League: East Bengal breezes past lacklustre Arrows

The visiting East Bengal notched up its fifth win in eight I-League matches with a 2-0 victory at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Tuesday, courtesy goals from Syrian Mahmoud Al Amna and Japanese Katsumi Yusa in a span of three minutes.

The Indian Arrows side had a few regulars missing and that helped East Bengal dominate proceedings.   -  I-League

East Bengal pulled back for a large part of the second half, Indian Arrows pulled up its game and its efforts but the gap between the two sides was too large for the youngsters. The visiting East Bengal notched up its fifth win in eight I-League matches with a 2-0 victory at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Tuesday, courtesy goals from Syrian Mahmoud Al Amna and Japanese Katsumi Yusa in a span of three minutes.

The result helped East Bengal extend its hold at the top of the table with 17 points while Arrows slipped a spot to be placed seventh with as many points in as many games.

The absence of key personnel was clearly felt in the Arrows side, the AIFF developmental side made up of the national Under-17 and Under-22 players. Captain Amarjit Singh and Jeakson Singh were unavailable, and that helped EB dominate the midfield.

The result: East Bengal 2 (Mohammed Al Amna, Katsumi Yusa) bt Indian Arrows 0.

Dheeraj Singh had walked out of the team at the end of his contract on December 31 and Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, the 16-year old goalkeeper replacing him and playing his first game of the competition, was clearly overawed by the occasion and the opposition. He grew into his role with some impressive saves in the second half but for the first 45 minutes, he appeared clueless to the proceedings.

Verbal volleys: A war of words broke out between Indian Arrows goalkeeping coach Yusuf Ansari and East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil on Tuesday during the match. Appartently, Ansari took exception to Jamil allegedly egging on his players to score more goals after the visitor opened up a 2-0 lead.

The goalkeeping coach was reportedly heard saying “Chup saale b******d” at Khalid Jamil in the 43rd minute of the match.

Later, the assistant referee was seen looking into the matter and the official warned Ansari for his misbehaviour.

Even with their presence, Arrows would have struggled. But, as the team showed in its last away game that it drew against the mighty Mohun Bagan, it would have put up a stronger fight.

That didn't happen.

Al Amna's curling free kick from the left edge of the box in the 13th minute saw the Arrows defence rooted and Gill caught unawares at the far post after Yusa was fouled by Abhishek Halder to put EB ahead. Three minutes later, Yusa got himself on the scoresheet, slotting the ball into the top right corner after receiving a cross from Laldanmawia Ralte.

The second half saw EB not taking its many chances and the youngsters came close to scoring in the 58th minute when Sanjeev Stalin’s corner kick was headed towards the goal by Anwar Ali. However, Abhijit Sarkar’s back-heel effort went straight to East Bengal custodian Luis Barreto. It perhaps woke up the opposition as EB began attacking more, coming close to adding another goal in the 62nd minute but Laldanmawia Ralte’s header was punched out by Gill.