East Bengal FC took a huge step towards qualifying for the Indian Super League playoffs after beating Bengaluru FC 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Sunday.

Goals from Saul Crespo and Cleiton Silva either side of a Sunil Chhetri penalty helped the Red & Gold Brigade jump to sixth in the standings.

East Bengal have 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, are out of the contention to qualify for the playoffs.

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 Mohun Bagan Super Giant, the two teams will be tied on 25 points. Given that Chennaiyin FC have a better head-to-head record against Bengaluru FC, they will beat the ISL 2018-19 champions for a place in the playoffs.

The lively Naorem Mahesh Singh was brought down on the left side of the Bengaluru FC box by 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. 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-line 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 sank the Blues in the end. East Bengal fullback Nishu Kumar carried the ball forward and chipped in a cross for Silva who was stationed just in front of Bengaluru 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.