Imphal, Feb 23 (IANS) East Bengal registered an emphatic 4-2 comeback win over hosts TRAU FC at the Khuman Lumpak Stadium Imphal on Sunday.
The visitors were trailing by a solitary goal in the first half after TRAU drew first blood through Princewill Emeka in the 18th minute.
East Bengal, who lacked steam in the first half, came back strongly in the final 45 minutes of the game as they struck in quick intervals.
Jaime Colado’s 52nd minute goal restored parity for the visitors who did pressed harder for a lead. They soon found success punching in three quick goals through Kassim Aidara in the 67th minute, Brandon in the 69th minute and through a successful penalty conversion from Marcos Espada in the 76th minute.
TRAU pulled back a consolation through Patrick Uche who successfully converted a penalty awarded to the hosts in the 85th minute.
As expected East Bengal started on an attacking note right from the first minute. They tried making an attempt within the first two minutes when captain Aidara’s long ranger landed safely into the hands of TRAU’s Shayan Roy.
Soon after, TRAU forged forward with an inch perfect cross from Joel Sunday to Mayowa, who could not find the back of the net thanks to a quick reflex from Red and Golds’ keeper Laldanmawia Ralte between the post.
East Bengal’s counter attacks lacked steam and their lacklustre defence soon gave way when on a counter attack a long cross from TRAU’s Dinesh to Emeka inside the box saw the Nigerian scoring with a masterful header.
The game thereafter saw TRAU exploiting the visitors to the hilt while pressing hard to consolidate their lead but East Bengal ensured the hosts could not find success in their attempts.
Throughout the first 45 minutes East Bengal looked disorganised in their attempts to secure an equaliser.
East Bengal were the first to bring in Brandon in 23rd minute replacing an injured Didika while hosts TRAU brought in Uche in the 45th minute as Nethrajit Singh had to be stretchered out. The first half came to a close with TRAU ahead of Quess East Bengal by a solitary goal.
The second half started with East Bengal bringing in new signing Victor Perez in place of Abhash Thapa. The change in strategy sparked the difference for the visitors, who were now pressing hard in an organised manner to find that elusive equaliser. Seven minutes into the second half, they finally got back to level terms through Jaime Santos Colado.
Much relieved now, East Bengal changed gears and started pressing hard in quick succession though the combination of the debuting Victor Perez, Jaime Colado and Marcos Espada.
They took the lead soon after when a free kick from Victor Perez found a lurking Espada in the box, who headed across the goal to Kassim Aidara. The Frenchman made no mistake with the finish and guided the ball into the net with a header in the 67th minute.
The Red and Golds rode on their newfound ascendency and increased the deficit just two minutes later. A delightful through ball from Espada found Brandon, who had made a timely run and finished from a tight angle to make it 3-1.
TRAU’s woes deepened further when in the 76th minute, when Patrick Uche was penalised for a handball inside the box. Espada stepped up to the ensuing penalty and extended their lead to 4-1.
TRAU pulled one back through a successfully converted Patrick Uche penalty in the 86th minute, but that served as nothing more than a consolation as the Red and Golds made it two wins in as many matches, rising to fourth with 18 points.
Newly-promoted TRAU drop a place below to sixth, and are now winless in five games. Brandon was adjudged to be the Hero of the Match for the impact he made as a first-half substitute.