East Bengal

I League 2017-18: East Bengal settles for a 2-2 draw against defending champions Aizawl FC

[caption id="attachment_58924" align="alignnone" width="580"]EAST-BENGAL--VS---AIZAL-03 East Bengal striker Willis Plaza takes a shot against Aizawl FC during the Hero I League clach at Salt Lake Stadium.[/caption]

Kolkata: Kolkata giants East Bengal were dealt a blow ahead of the I League derby as they were held 2-2 by defending champions Aizawl FC at the Salt Lake Stadium. The Red and Golds failed to capitalise a two goal lead to settle for a draw in front of a sparse home supporters on Tuesday. Brazilian Eduardo and Katsumi Yuasa scored for East Bengal while William netted both the goals for the visitors.

After a barren first half, the home team surged ahead through a superb header from Eduardo off a Katsumi corner in the 66th minute. The Red and Golds were two goals ahead in the 71st minute as a shot from Md. Rafique got deflected by Katsumi to find the back of the nets.

Within just 3 minutes William scored for Aizawl FC. The North East side looked dangerous as they kept on building the pressure in the last 10 minutes of the match. The defending champions were eventually rewarded as William found the back of the net from a goal mouth melee.

The Kolkata giants dominated the proceedings at the start as Willis Plaza squandered three opportunities in the first half. Mehtab Singh crossed the ball into the box for the Trinidadian but Plaza was late to react as his first touch failed him in front of the net in the seventh minute. Exactly seven minutes later, the 30-year-old sent the ball straight into the hands of Avilash Paul. Plaza also hit the woodwork from 22 yards out from a solo effort as Plaza’s showing in the box left a lot to be desired.

It was only around the half-time whistle that Aizawl got their first sniff on goal as Alfred Jaryan sent a header wide from a corner. However, the second half promised a goal-fest.

Avilash Paul was tested thrice around the hour mark but his resolute was broken by Katsumi Yusa’s corner-kick which took Brandon Vanlalremdika nudged towards Eduardo Ferreira and the former Mohun Bagan defender headed home, scoring on debut with his new club.

Another goal within six minutes sent the Kingfisher East Bengal fans into a frenzy when Paul could not judge the trajectory of the shot from Mohammed Rafique, taking a major deflection off Katsumi Yusa to double the lead for the Kolkata club.

However, that joy was short-lived. Aizawl FC got one back two minutes later as William Lalnufela headed in the ball as Kareem Omolaja guided the ball towards the striker who was unmarked from David Lalrinmuana’s set-piece.

Just as the hosts believed they had got the three points in their kitty, there was late drama, much after the stipulated injury time. Lalthathanga Khawlring’s flag-kick triggered a goalmouth melee and hero earlier, Eduardo Ferreira failed to clear the ball in front of him and Lalnufela was at it again as his left-footer found the back of the net, breaking Kingfisher East Bengal hearts.

Both Kolkata clubs now head into the much-anticipated derby on Sunday with draws to their record. Champions of India, Aizawl FC began their title-defence with a draw and now face Churchill Brothers at home on December 13, 2017.

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