East Bengal FC held Punjab FC to a goalless draw at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 tonight.
It was a back and forth contest right from the beginning, with the home side and Punjab FC taking formidable shots at goal in the opening 15 minutes.
Naorem Mahesh Singh was a constant presence in and around the Punjab FC backline, playing quick one-twos, trying to take on the defenders, and earning fouls with his close control over the ball.
Saul Crespo had spearheaded the midfield forward and attempted to finish a well constructed move from outside of the box in the seventh minute, only for the shot to lack enough power behind it eventually.
Cleiton Silva was gifted a chance by Singh soon afterwards, but the Brazilian’s right footed shot was blocked as Punjab FC regathered their defensive line.
Singh intermittently shifted flanks, with his tearaway pace earning his side set-pieces on bothwings. However, nearly all of those opportunities didn’t materialise in them creating any clear cut chances.
From open play, East Bengal FC tried to breakthrough the Punjab FC backline but their cohesion didn’t come together as the end of the first half saw the visitors holding the upper hand in the flow of play.
Krishnananda Singh and Tekcham Singh interlinked inside the East Bengal FC box, with the former shooting from close range, for the effort to be saved by Prabsukhan Singh Gill in the 40th minute.
In the 60th minute, Krishnananda encountered another opportunity to draw the first blood, this time courtesy of a cross by Juan Mera. That was preceded by Punjab FC putting pressure back on East Bengal FC, with Ashish Pradhan and Nikhil Prabhu trying their luck from outside the 18-yard box.
Carles Cuadrat rung in his substitutions, bringing in José Antonio Pardo and Vishnu Puthiya to discover newer, creative ways of getting past the Punjab FC backline.
Puthiya and Hijazi Maher got inside the box, against the momentum of the game, for Puthiya to take his shot at goal, but that move didn’t crack the code either. All of this was accompanied with Silva putting in a rather arduous effort, constantly getting into goal-scoring positions, but to no avail.