Marcos de la Espada’s 75th-minute strike helped Kolkata giants East Bengal hold Real Kashmir FC to a 1-1 draw in their I-League encounter in Kalyani, West Bengal on Wednesday.

Although East Bengal enjoyed 64 percent possession over the course of the match, Real Kashmir held their nerves to earn a point from the game.

After Gnohere Krizo put the Kashmir-based side in the driver’s seat in the 33rd minute, De La Espada heeled in the equaliser in the 75th minute to provide East Bengal supporters with some much-needed respite.

From the start, the hosts looked fluent, passing the ball swiftly and going forward with intent. They won the first free-kick of the match but a poor delivery by Juan Mera Gonzales was easily cleared by the RKFC defence line.

The final pass was a problem for the hosts who attacked from both the flanks but failed to land the crosses on the intended target as the away side dealt with it well.

However, against the run of play, Real Kashmir caught East Bengal defence napping as Krizo gave his side the lead in the 33rd minute with a stupendous strike from outside the box.

The home side responded well to conceding the first goal and came close to equalising from a corner only to see it cleared off the goal line by the away team.

Real Kashmir held onto their slender lead at the end of the first 45 minutes.

The second half started with great intensity with the home side launching attack after attack. In the 59th minute, the Red and Golds stitched another opportunity from a set-piece but young defender Mehtab Singh failed to find the back of the net.

In the 67th minute, Alejandro Menendez Garcia made his first tactical change, introducing Abhijit Sarkar for defender Kamalpreet Singh. Finally, East Bengal scored the elusive equaliser in the 75th minute when Espada poked a low cross by Juan Mera from the left flank.

East Bengal did well to earn the point but would be disappointed for failing to win at home. With their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan also beginning the competition with a draw, the much-fancied Kolkata side would need to pull up their socks in the upcoming games.