Plaza’s last minute goal helps East Bengal past Churchill Brothers

Willis Plaza, East Bengal’s Trinidad and Tobago striker, contributed with two goals including the decider while the young Mizoram winger Laldanmawia Ralte struck the target once to complete East Bengal’s tally.

Willis Plaza, East Bengal’s Trinidad and Tobago striker, contributed with two goals including the decider. (File Image)   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

A set-piece conversion in the last minute of the added time helped host East Bengal down visiting Churchill Brothers 3-2 in an I-League fixture at the Vidyasagar Stadium, Barasat on Saturday.

Willis Plaza, East Bengal’s Trinidad and Tobago striker, contributed with two goals including the decider while the young Mizoram winger Laldanmawia Ralte struck the target once to complete East Bengal’s tally.

Churchill Brothers matched the host strength to strength and made the contest interesting by first getting the lead early in the opening half and then pushing the latter to the brink of despair with an equaliser midway through the second half. For Churchill Brothers Nigerian attacker Peter Omoduemuke and Nicholas Fernandes found the target.

A fine counter offensive in the first quarter of the action saw the Goan team surprising the host when a combination between Israil Gurung and Omoduemuke opened up the East Bengal defence before the latter slotted the ball home with a nice effort. Before the visitor could end its celebrations, the host found the equaliser off a build-up through the left. Katsumi Yusa, the Japanese midfielder did the hard work winning a midfield duel and then released Plaza on top of the box. The lanky striker pushed the ball diagonally inside the box for Ralte to finish a finely concerted attack.

Having drawn a blank in the previous three outings for his team, Plaza got his name on the score-sheet in the added time of the first half when he nodded home a cross from Katsumi Yusa.

As East Bengal went defensive looking to preserve the lead after the break, Nicholas Fernandes brought the match alive with a spectacular finish at the hour mark (2-2).

With the scores levelled again, it was now the turn of East Bengal to realign its attack and restore the lead which did not happen till the seventh minute of added time. Plaza grabbed the final chance as he went above the Churchill Brothers defence to nod home a corner curled into the box by Yusa.

RESULT

East Bengal 3 (Laldanmawia Ralte 18, Willis Plaza 45+2, 90+7) bt Churchill Brothers 2 (Peter Omoduemuke 16, Nicholas Fernandes 60).

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