Matti Steinmann’s first-half strike proved to be the difference as SC East Bengal edged past Bengaluru FC 1-0 to record their second win of the Indian Super League, at the Fatorda Stadium on Saturday.
The Kolkata side is now unbeaten in their last five games while BFC’s misery continued with their fourth consecutive defeat this season.
Erik Paartalu returned to the starting XI after serving his one-match suspension as Naushad Moosa made four changes in his first game as interim coach. While Udanta Singh started as well, Moosa handed first start to the defenders Parag Srivas and Ajith Kumar.
SCEB made just one change with Jacques Maghoma replacing Aaron Amadi-Holloway. Skipper Daniel Fox made the line-up after his red card against FC Goa was earlier overturned.
Bengaluru had early chances in the game but struggled to get the goals.
First, Sunil Chhetri’s lob-shot over the rival defense was easily dealt with by Debjit Majumder. Cleiton Silva soon had a chance to put his side ahead in the 15th minute. But the Brazilian failed to direct his header at the goal after Juan Antonio González had pushed Parag Shrivas’ long throw-in in the box.
Steinmann put SCEB in the lead in the 20th minute with a fine outside-foot finish. Ankit Mukherjee’s cross was not dealt with cleanly by Ajith and Juanan and it found Narayan Das on the left. Narayan then played a low cross to Steinmann in the middle, and he scored his third of the season.
SCEB were in total control of the game at this point and made Bengaluru chase shadows. The Kolkata side created a couple of chances before the half-hour mark and nearly extended their lead. Ankit sent in a perfect cross into the box, but Narayan’s diving finish diverted it wide. Minutes later, another chance went begging for SCEB, as Harmanpreet Singh couldn’t get to the end of Ankit’s through pass.
Bengaluru put up a much-improved performance in the second half. Chhetri played a one-two with Kristian Opseth and on entering the box tried his luck with a powerful strike but his effort was saved by Debjit.
Clearly the better side in the second half, Bengaluru continued with their dominance but a goal eluded them. At the hour mark, it was Chhetri once again with a ferocious strike from outside the box, but Debjit refused to let it past. They piled on the pressure in the final minutes, but SCEB’s defense stood tall to deny BFC an equaliser.