Quess East Bengal romped home to a fourth victory on the trot, defeating Shillong Lajong 5-0 at Kolkata’s Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Thursday, thanks to a Laldanmawia hat-trick and a goal apiece from Jobby Justin and Enrique Esqueda.
East Bengal started strongly. Jobby Justin hashed his contact with a free header in the fourth minute off a Danmawia cross. The Mizo winger decided to take things into his own hands four minutes later. Following a Lalrindika ‘Didika’ Ralte delivery from a corner, he rose to head the ball home from close.
Then Shillong got two chances in two minutes. The first free-kick by Samuel Lyngdoh just sailed over and a minute later, off a QEB defensive lapse, Phrangki Buam found himself in the clear inside the box, but his first touch let him down.
Danmawia Ralte, in the 27th minute, was set on his way by centre-back Borja Gomez, who displayed great vision in playing a long ball from just outside the QEB box anticipating his run.
The Mizo not only made the perfectly-timed run but brought the ball down with an exquisite first touch and then sensing keeper Purbha Lachempa was out of his line, lobbed the keeper and put the ball into the Shillong net for the second time in the game. It all happened so quickly that it left the adoring home fans gasping in awe.
QEB had just begun though. A minute later, a ball from Tony Dovale found Esqueda and the Mexican lobbed over an onrushing Lachempa into the centre of the box, where Jobby Justin rose above two Shillong defenders to nod home for his ninth goal of the league campaign.
Minutes later, it was Esqueda this time getting on the score sheet to increase the lead to four goals.
Didika again delivered from the right and with his left, directed at the Mexican who first with his back to the goal, moved into position in between two defenders, chested the ball down and instead of using his head which looked the more obvious option, in the same action, tapped in with a volley past a stunned Lachempa.
If ever a team needed a break it was Shillong Lajong as QEB were 4-0 ahead with half the game still left to play.
But there would not be any respite for Shillong as Danmawia sealed his hat-trick in the 61st minute. Kassim Aidara, who also had a great game in the centre of midfield, found substitute Jamie Colado on the right flank. The young Spaniard turned his marker in and drove towards goal, cutting in for Justin who had made a run on his inside.
The Kerala striker showed selflessness and vision for the second time in the game, stepping over for Danmawia further inside and in the clear. The Mizo had a weak first touch but recovered in time to slot the ball home.
The win keeps QEB on track for a first-ever I-League triumph, pushing them up to third on the points table, just one behind second-placed real Kashmir and three shy of leaders Chennai City FC having played a game fewer than both of them.
Shillong stumbled to their 12th defeat in 16 games and after today’s game have conceded 44 goals to remain at the bottom of the table.