Spirited SC East Bengal fight back to steal a point against Chennaiyin FC

SC East Bengal wiped off a two-goal deficit to earn a deserved 2-2 draw against Chennaiyin FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Tilak Maidan stadium in Vasco, Goa on Wednesday.

A Hira Mondal own goal (2’) and a Ninthoinganba Neetei strike (15’) gave the Super Machans a strong early advantage but the Red and Gold brigade fought back strongly to level matters through goals from Darren Sidoel (61’) and Lalrinliana Hnamte (90+1’).

The draw meant Chennaiyin FC missed a chance to go into the top four.

Bozidar Bandovic’s men got off to a great start in the match as SC East bengal defender Mondal put it into his own net after Suhail Pasha had flicked a header from an inch-perfect Jerry Lalrinzuala cross in his path in the 2nd minute.

SC East Bengal then had a chance to equalise in the 11th minute when Sajid Mohd Dhot sloppily gave the ball to Marcelo Ribeiro in a dangerous area but the striker put his curling effort just wide of the target.

Four minutes later, Chennaiyin FC doubled their advantage through Meetei who latched onto a loose pass by Mondal and danced his way into the box before sending a thumping finish past Arindam Bhattacharja.

Antonio Perosevic then came close to halving the deficit after he brilliantly controlled a long ball from Sourav Das and shot with his left foot only to see it go just wide of the target in the 28th minute.

Nine minutes later, Mondal’s shot from outside the box took a deflection off Slavko Damjanovic to bounce just wide of the target. Debjit Majumder was wrong-footed and was a mere spectator.

The rejuvenated SC East Bengal then missed a great chance to get on the scoresheet before the break as Ribeiro who was totally unmarked inside the box headed wide from a Mahesh Naorem cross.

Chennaiyin FC held onto their 2-0 lead going into the break but there were signs of a SC East Bengal revival.

The Super Machans picked up the pace early in the second half and Anirudh Thapa went close to a third goal for Chennaiyin FC with a glancing header three minutes into the restart.

But SC East bengal once again continued to be a menace at the other end and scored their first goal of the match when Sidoel lifted his free-kick over the wall and into the back of the net in the 61st minute to half the deficit.

The Red and Gold brigade then pushed Chennaiyin FC back in search for the equaliser and Ribeiro came close when he headed Hnamte’s cross wide seven minutes from time.

Majumder then produced a top save in the 89th minute as he palmed away a goalbound attempt after the long throw-in from SC East Bengal had taken a deflection.

Eventually, SC East Bengal were rewarded for their efforts when Hnamte who was completely unmarked at the centre of the box headed home from a corner in the first minute of stoppage time to steal a point for his team.

The draw meant Chennaiyin FC stayed sixth, a point behind Bengaluru FC in fourth spot. SC East Bengal got off the bottom of the table inching ahead of NorthEast United FC on goal difference.

Hero ISL 2021-22 Standings

Bandovic’s men next face Mumbai City FC on Sunday. Mario Rivera’s side take on Odisha FC a day later.

Hero ISL 2021-22 Fixtures

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