East Bengal FC registered their first ever win over Kerala Blasters in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), winning 1-0 after Cleiton Silva scored the only goal of the match on his 36th birthday at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Friday. The Brazilian struck in the 77th minute as the Torch Bearers secured only their second win on home soil this season. East Bengal FC finished the game with ten men after Mobashir Rahman was sent off in the 94th minute.

The hosts made four changes to their starting lineup. Ankit Mukherjee replaced the suspended Lalchungnunga. Sarthak Golui replaced Ivan Gonzalez in defence, Alex Lima came in for Jordan O’Doherty in the midfield, and up front, Jake Jervis made his debut alongside Cleiton Silva as Sumeet Passi dropped to the bench. The visitors were content with their performance last week as Ivan Vukomanovic fielded an unchanged XI with new signing Danish Farooq on the bench.

The first opportunity of the match came in the seventh minute when Adrian Luna whipped a corner into the box and Rahul KP’s free header was saved by Kamaljit and then kept off the line by Suhair VP. In the very next minute, Rahul had another chance. This time Diamantakos cut the ball across the box into his path, but the winger struck it wide.

Three minutes from the break, Mahesh Singh’s cross from the left flank was flicked on towards Suhair at the far post by Jervis. The winger slotted the ball in, but the goal was chalked off after the offside flag went up against Suhair.

In first-half stoppage time, the East Bengal FC players protested for a penalty moments after Karanjit Singh produced an incredible double save to deny Cleiton Silva. From the resulting corner, Suhair’s glancing header went inches wide at the far post.

Seconds into the second half, Harmanjot Khabra’s backpass was nicked off Ruivah Hormipam by Mahesh, who squared it to Silva. Silva sold a dummy to the keeper but could not cause any damage as Hormipam recovered in time to halt the Brazilian.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 77th minute when Mahesh sprinted down the left flank before cutting the ball back across the face of goal. The low ball picked up a deflection and a save before coming towards Silva, who was alert to poke it in before Farooq could put a boot through it.

East Bengal FC defended well to keep their clean sheet intact but finished the game with ten men after Rahman picked up a second yellow for a challenge in second-half stoppage time.

The win took East Bengal FC within three points of Chennaiyin FC and gave them the perfect momentum to build on before their next game against NorthEast United FC on February 8. Kerala Blasters failed to consolidate their place in third place on the table and remain just a point ahead of ATK Mohun Bagan, having played a game more. The Blasters will play Chennaiyin FC next on February 7.