Kalyani, Feb 7 (IANS) East Bengal suffered yet another setback in the I-League as they lost 0-1 to Aizawl FC at the Kalyani Municipality Stadium here on Friday.
Matias Veron scored the match-winning goal in the 77th minute to earn Aizawl FC’s second win in the campaign. Their first came against Indian Arrows back in December.
Red and Golds head coach Mario Rivera Campesino made three changes with the hope of catalysing a better display. Abhash Thapa was handed his first start at the back, while Samad Ali Mallick slotted in for Marti Crespi. Ansumana Kromah replaced the suspended Marcos Jimenez De La Espada upfront.
Stanley Rozario’s line-up featured a catalogue of changes. Zothanmawia replaced Lalremruata in goal, Paul Ramfangzuava was recalled to the four-man midfield next to Lalrosanga. Nigerian forward Justice Morgan started up front, next to William Lalnunfela.
The hosts have been on a downward spiral since the turn of the year, with their only saving grace being an away win against Chennai City. Aizawl have had problems of their own, but they looked more likely to score in either half.
The alarm bells were ringing as early as the 10th minute, when Rochharzela’s solo run almost made the Red and Golds pay. To his credit, the run was beautiful but question marks were posed all over the hosts’ backline, who seemingly made little effort to close him down.
East Bengal came close to breaking the deadlock through Kromah, whose volley flashed inches wide off the Aizawl far post on the left. Brandon Vanlalremdika’s delivery was immaculate too, which received the Liberian forward’s thumbs-up of approval.
It was Brandon again just before the break, who was played through on goal by Juan Mera but his effort went straight at the keeper and was collected comfortably, as the first half finished goalless.
Following the break, the hosts failed to make possession count. Lalrindika Ralte’s beautifully weighted ball almost paid dividends, but keeper Zothanmawia did brilliantly to come off his line and thwart the danger.
The knockout blow arrived in the 77th minute, when William Lalnunfela showed some exquisite footwork and on being closed down, passed the ball to Justice Morgan who instinctively played it to substitute Matias Veron and the Argentine made no mistake with his shot from outside the box, leaving Mirshad in goal with no chance.
Aizawl weathered the storm and clung onto their lead successfully for the remainder of the game, as the referee blew the full-time whistle, thus rubber stamping yet another frustrating evening for East Bengal, who have now lost five matches since the turn of the year.
While all are locked at 11 points, Aizawl climb up to seventh and East Bengal drop to eighth based on their head-to-head records.