Mendy shines on debut as East Bengal beats Aizawl

Second-half goals from Bikash Jairu (72′) and Bernard Mendy (74′) were enough to allow Biswajit Bhattacharya’s men to return to the winning ways.

Bernard Mendy scored on his I-League debut for East Bengal in their 2-0 win over Aizawl FC.   -  I-League

East Bengal defeated I-League new boys Aizawl FC at the Barasat Stadium here in Kolkata. Second-half goals from Bikash Jairu (72′) and Bernard Mendy (74′) were enough to allow Biswajit Bhattacharya’s men to return to the winning ways.

East Bengal started with Luis Barreto under the bars as TP Rehenesh is busy on international duty. CS Sabeeth, Saumik Dey and Rahul Bheke came into the side in place of Narayan Das, Samad Mullick and Joaquim Abranches. Chennaiyin FC centre-back Bernard Mendy came into the side in midfield in place of Mohammed Rafique.

Aizawl FC had Emmanuel Chigozie in defense with Yuta Kinowaki too on the side. Alfred Jaryan started up front with David Lalrinmuana in midfield.

Frenchman Mendy almost scored the opener in the 4th minute with his very first shot in the I-League as he dribbled past two Aizawl players to make space, but smashed it over the bar. In the 14th minute, the former PSG player was at it again as he met Saumik’s cross with aplomb, but his header sailed wide with Poirei scrambling.

Aizawl’s first chance came in the 20th minute when Kinowaki’s shot went straight to Luis Barreto. The move started with Jaryan crossing to the Japanese who exchanged a one-two with Ruatthara before going in for the shot.

Ranti Martins was guilty of spurning a couple of chances before the half-time whistle with Bikash Jairu turning the provider from the right, on both chances.

Cavin Lobo’s introduction in the 50th minute provided more drive to Kingfisher East Bengal who had failed to score in spite of their dominance.

Mendy had yet another pop at goal on the hour mark but his header was saved by Poirei before the Frenchman was given offside.

In the 66th minute, Ranti Martins failed to score from point blank range when his shot off a smart Bikash Jairu low cross was kept out by Poirei somehow as the ball ricocheted off the post. However, Jairu had the last laugh as substitute Joaquim Abranches played a lovely low cross which was headed into the far corner with a bullet header by the Sikkimese who acrobatically threw himself at the ball, giving Poirei no chance.

It got even better in the 74th minute when Mendy finally got on the scoresheet. Cavin Lobo’s cross from the left found Mendy in acres of space and his header was somehow let in by Poirei who should have saved it.

In the dying minutes of the half, both Mendy and Ranti saw their chances go begging with Poirei coming to the rescue on both occasions, snatching the ball from the opponents’ feet bravely.

The win saw Kingfisher East Bengal leave its defeat against Bengaluru behind with Aizawl FC failing to win away from home again.

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