East Bengal FC beat Bengaluru FC by 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Sunday to continue their chase for the playoff spot. A goal in either halves by Saul Crespo and Cleiton Silva ensured that the penalty by Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri was cancelled to help the Red & Gold Brigade break into the sixth spot in the standings.

East Bengal FC has accumulated 24 points from 21 matches as a consequence of this result, helping them edge past Chennaiyin FC (7th) and NorthEast United FC (8th) in the table. Bengaluru FC, with 22 points from 21 games, is out of the contention to qualify for the playoffs now. Chennaiyin FC are set to clash with NorthEast United FC on April 9. Even if the Marina Machans draw that game, and the Blues win their last match against the Mariners, the two teams will be tied on 25 points. Given that Chennaiyin FC has a better head-to-head record against Bengaluru FC, they will beat the ISL 2018-19 champions for a place in the playoffs.

Interestingly, a game like this that had massive stakes attached to it, had penalties playing a massive role in the eventual outcome. The lively Naorem Mahesh Singh was brought down on the left side of the Bengaluru FC box by the latter’s 19-year-old midfielder Lalremtluanga Fanai. It was a straightforward spot-kick, which Saul converted by slotting the ball on the bottom right corner in the 19th minute to notch the opener.

Bengaluru FC has often had skipper Chhetri to look up to whenever things have gone off track for them over the years. Even tonight, it was the striker who gave them a slight glimmer of hope at the hour mark of the game. Sprinting with the ball inside the box, Chhetri took it deep near the goal-like on the left side before attempting a cheeky cross that hit the hands of East Bengal FC defender Harmanjot Khabra. A spot-kick was subsequently handed to the Blues, and Chhetri netted it with admirable ease to bring the scores level.

However, it was the former Bengaluru FC star Cleiton Silva whose strike bit the Blues in the end. East Bengal FC fullback Nishu Kumar carried the ball forward and chipped in a cross for Silva who was stationed just in front of Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Silva rose and nodded the ball in, bagging the winner and helping his team get one feet forward towards the playoffs.

Key Performer of the Match

Cleiton Silva (East Bengal FC)

The Brazilian completed 14 out of his 16 passes, making three clearances, creating a goal-scoring chance, crossing once, and scoring the decisive goal of this gripping contest.

What’s next for both teams?

East Bengal FC will play their next game against Punjab FC on April 10, whereas Bengaluru FC will square off against the Mohun Bagan Super Giant the following day, i.e. April 11.

Brief Scores

East Bengal FC 2 (Saul Crespo 19’, Cleiton Silva 73’) - 1 Bengaluru FC (Sunil Chhetri 60’)

For more information, visit the match centre: https://www.indiansuperleague.com/matchcentre/62595