I-League: Chennai City sinks East Bengal with last-minute goal

Prasanth bagged the winner in the 92nd minute for a 2-1 final score.

Prasanth (right) is hugged his team-mates after the winning goal in the 92nd minute.   -  M. Vedhan

Chennai City FC ended its home campaign with a last-minute 2-1 victory against East Bengal, with Prasanth bagging the 92nd minute winner that sank the opposition defenders to their knees. With a partisan crowd in eager attendance for the last home game, the home fans broke into wild celebrations when the substitute pounced on a loose ball to ensure all three points.

However, the visitor had the better chances, especially in the last 10 minutes when it threw the kitchen sink at the Chennai goal in search of the winner. East Bengal could have scored from the plethora of chances it enjoyed towards the end.

Chennai made one change to the starting line-up, with Marcos Vinicius playing in place of Raegan Albarnas, while East Bengal made a host of changes. The visiting side started on the front foot with Lalrindika Ralte in the thick of things.

In the third minute, Ralte released Australian striker Christopher Payne but his shot was acrobatically saved by Karanjit Singh. Ralte then had two chances that could have ended in the back of the net. The midfielder first the hit the crossbar after he found space on the left side of the penalty box. Minutes later, he skied a shot just above the goal after he was found inside the box.

However, East Bengal didn't have to rue those misses as Trinidadian Willis Plaza put the Kolkata giant ahead in the 42nd minute. Rahul Bheke put in a cross to the near post from the right flank and the inch-perfect ball found Plaza, who headed it past the keeper.

In the second half, East Bengal continued to run proceedings but there were patches in play where the host found its footing. The 57th minute had one such instance when the tricky Nandhakumar found himself in space inside the East Bengal box.

Raegan, who had come on for Marcos Vinicius late in the first half, controlled the ball at the edge of the box; he then turned around and released Nandhakumar who drilled it straight at the keeper Rehenesh. However, the custodian erroneously let the ball slip through his legs as it trickled past the line.

Holes in the back

This was the wake-up call East Bengal needed, especially since it needed a win to leapfrog table topper Aizawl, which only mustered a draw in its fixture.

The visiting side upped the ante as it put in an extra man in attack in search of the winner. Plaza, Payne, Robin Singh constantly threatened the goal. However, its attacking intent left holes in the back and Chennai almost exploited the space in the counter, with Raegan almost giving the home side an unlikely lead.

However, all chances missed by East Bengal proved costly as Prasanth pounced on a loose ball in the box after the keeper kicked away Charles de Souza's shot across the six yard box, and secured the win.

Chennai moves up to eight in the table with 13 points. East Bengal stays in second with 27 points.

The result: Chennai City FC 2 (Nandhakumar 57’, Prasanth 92’) beat East Bengal 1 (Plaza 42’)

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