Two goals from Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva secured East Bengal FC their opening win of the Indian Super League 2023-24 campaign as they defeated Hyderabad FC by 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.
Both teams scored goals in the opening 10 minutes which set the tone for a contest that tested the defence set-ups of both teams.
Hyderabad began building up an offensive move from the right flank and their Australian attacker Joe Knowles received a cross at the edge of the box on the left side. He managed well to get past three defenders before cutting back and taking a shot at goal. He couldn’t get enough power behind the same but the team’s attacking midfielder Hitesh Sharma tapped the rebound into the back of the net to give Hyderabad the lead in the eighth minute.
East Bengal equalised within a couple of minutes and former Hyderabad FC star Borja Herrera was at the centre of the move that brought about that goal. Herrera received a long ball and moved to the left in order to shoot at goal. Silva was at the right spot to pounce upon the loose ball and put it into the back of the net to bring the match on level terms.
East Bengal also looked relatively threatening from set pieces too. They took a quick corner in the 36th minute that could have been the winner. The ball was directed to Silva again who jumped the highest but his header ended slightly above the crossbar, leaving the home side close to getting a lead in the proceedings.
The second half remained equal affair as both teams struggled to get one ahead of the other. Hyderabad head coach Conor Nestor tapped upon every resource available on the bench in search of the winner. Aaren D’Silva, Anuj Kumar, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, and Oswaldo Alanis were called on as substitutes to somehow bag the winner whilst Cuadrat placed trust on his starting XI and delayed his substitutions significantly.
However, it was Silva who made the difference again by pulling off a free-kick from a promising position at the brink of injury time. Stepping up to take the set-piece, the striker displayed good technique to curl the ball into the top left corner and ensure that the home team bagged all three points from the game.