CFL 2019/20: Peerless stun East Bengal to reclaim top spot

KOLKATA: Peerless SC reclaimed top spot in the Calcutta Premier Division ‘A’ with a 1-0 win over East Bengal on Monday afternoon at East Bengal Ground.

Liberian forward Ansumana Kromah scored the only goal of the match in the 66th minute when he successfully converted from the spot.

Despite some quick and accurate passes from both sets of players, neither side was able to establish dominance over the midfield during the early stages which made for an end-to-end, open encounter.

Peerless were pressing high without the ball, trying to put pressure on the East Bengal defence which looked organised and comfortable to dictate the pace of the match and limit the Peerless’ options to counterattacks.

Playing out from the back, Jahar Das’ men were looking to connect with target-man Kromah but Borja Gomez Perez, at the centre of East Bengal defence, had little trouble defusing the searching long balls and crosses aimed at the Liberian forward.

By midway through the first period East Bengal were piling on the pressure. Marcos Espada and Ronaldo Oliviera led East Bengal’s offensive efforts but like their opponents, failed to be as lethal as they needed to be in front of goal.

Pintu Mahata offered some attacking thrust to East Bengal with darting runs on the left wing  and Peerless could consider themselves somewhat lucky to be still on level terms in the break.

East Bengal continued with that momentum as they came out for the second-half, controlling the ball, winning set pieces and keeping Peerless pinned into their own back third,  but between some solid defending and the safe hands of goalkeeper Arup Debnath, the attackers were unable to get an edge on their opponent.

Inevitably, failing to convert their chances came back to haunt East Bengal as Peerless took the lead in the 66th minute after substitute Pankaj Moula was brought down in the penalty area by Kamalpreet Singh and Kromah converted the resulting spot kick to give his side the lead.

The setback served to awaken East Bengal from their slumber and they threw players forward with abandon, in search of an equalizer. Alejandro Menendez’s charges fought hard to not only keep themselves in the match but to try and find a goal which would help them secure at least a deserved point.

Although East Bengal remained determined to get back into the game, unfortunately the front line continued to fire off-target while Peerless started to establish a comfortable rhythm whenever they found themselves in possession making it tough for their opponents to impose their game.

Meanwhile, Peerless looked dangerous on the counter with Jiten Murmu missing a golden chance to double his side’s advantage, however, at the end it didn’t matter as the Peerless captain’s lone goal proved to be enough to decide the thrilling encounter.

Peerless, who now have 13 points from 6 outings, will take on Calcutta Customs next on September 14 at Barasat Stadium while East Bengal face Kalighat MS on September 12.

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