Goa, Jan. 4: A resilient SC East Bengal held Bengaluru FC to a 1-1 draw in the 2021-22 Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim.
The result extends SCEB's winless run to nine matches while BFC's hopes of securing playoffs qualification suffer another blow.
Semboi Haokip (28') opened the scoring with a diving header until Sourav Das (OG 55') handed the equaliser to the opposition with an own goal.
In a nervy start, SC East Bengal's goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharja was shown an early yellow card for fouling Prince Ibara. On the other end, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu also had a rusty start as he misjudged a free-kick from deep that went unpunished. It took the 18th minute for either side to create a meaningful scoring opportunity when Lalrinliana Hnamte's shot from the edge of the box was blocked by the BFC defence.
Roshan Naorem was shown a yellow card for a shirt pull and the subsequent free-kick led to Semboi Haokip breaking the deadlock just before the half-hour mark. He scored with a diving header which gave no chance to the keeper.
Alan Costa nearly scored the equaliser from Cleiton Silva's free-kick a few moments later but his header went slightly over the bar. Marco Pezzaiuoli's men kept pressing for an equaliser but went into the halftime break trailing. The restart saw the tactician send Sunil Chhetri to change the complexion of the match.
The equaliser finally came after a period of sustained pressure by the Blues in the second half. A cross from the right flank by Roshan was met by Sourav Das whose miscued header went past his own goalkeeper on the near post. Ibara was a constant threat and had the chance to give BFC the advantage after the hour mark but his header went over the crossbar. BFC was again denied the lead at the 71st-minute mark after Chhetri's strike from 10-yards out was cleared on the line by Hira Mondal.
The Blues piled on more pressure as substitute Ankit Mukherjee picked up a yellow card for a bad foul on Ashique Kuruniyan in the late stages of the match. Udanta Singh also took an attempt at goal but he sliced across the ball which swerved away from the target. Five minutes were added for stoppages but neither side was able to find the winning goal as they settled for a point each.
SC East Bengal will be next in action against leaders Mumbai City FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Friday while Bengaluru FC also plays the Islanders in their next assignment at the PJN Stadium on Monday.
Source: ISL Media