East Bengal failed to sustain the momentum of a big win and had to settle for a goalless draw against the resolute defending by the debutant Punjab FC, in an ISL-10 match at the Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday.
After the high of a 5-0 win against NorthEast United FC East Bengal failed to reproduce the rhythm and had to be satisfied with a point from the deadlocked affair. Despite playing at home, the East Bengal attack struggled to find its footing against a predominantly defensive Punjab, which kept a tight vigil to prevent the home attackers from getting a clear look at the goal.
East Bengal controlled the midfield and made a few impressive raids but failed to keep a single of its attempts on target in the opening session. East Bengal also made an appeal for a penalty early in the opening quarter for a foul on Cleiton Silva by the Punjab defender Nitesh Darjee in the Punjab box but the referee chose to ignore it.
Punjab relied on its youthful line-up and made a few effective counter attacks and almost found the goal in the 36 th minute but for the crosspiece that blocked Spanish midfielder Juan Mera’s left-footed attempt. East Bengal had its first look at the goal in the 58 th minute but Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva’s effort was saved by the Punjab FC’s Nepalese goalkeeper Kiran Limbu.
Punjab came up with an immediate reply a minute later but Krishnananda Singh’s header could not beat the East Bengal custodian Prabhsukhan Singh Gill.
As his team’s attack continued to be frustrated by the opposition’s defence, East Bengal coach Carles Cuadrat made a few changes in the final quarter of the action. The attempted effort in putting some fresh legs in the offensive did not go the host’s way as Punjab continued to remain organised in the backline. East Bengal substitute P.V. Vishnu worked his way into the Punjab box showing some good skills in the injury-time but failed to find the desired finish and sent his effort wide of the mark.
East Bengal tallied nine points from eight matches and rose to the sixth spot while Punjab FC continued in the 11th spot with five points after playing as many draws in its nine appearances so far.
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