“Five” star performance keeps the title hopes alive for East Bengal
It was nothing less than a total team performance as Alejandro Menendez Garcia’s men put in a scintillating display of passing and finishing as they thrashed the Lajong boys 5-0 at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday evening.
East Bengal began the game with high intensity and went all out to get the first strike and it took less than 8 mins when Laldanmawia Ralte scored the first from another Lalrindika Ralte corner. East Bengal has been terrific from set-piece situations this season and Lalrindika Ralte showed exactly why he is one of the best dead ball specialist in the country. After the first goal, the men in red and gold took control as Joby Justin came close twice again before Laldanmawia Ralte scored his second of the day after trapping an overhead ball from Borja Gomez and lobbing it over the advanced Lajong goalkeeper in a terrific finish from outside the box. It took less than 60 seconds as East Bengal further increased the lead as Tony Dovale unleashed Enrique Esqueda with an overhead through ball which was put in nicely for Joby Justin to head home the third goal of the game, thus making sure the tie is already over within half hour of the game. East Bengal piled up the scoreline even more as Enrique Esqueda scored his 6th of the season with a sublime side volley after chesting down a perfect cross from Lalrindika Ralte in the 45th minute, thus taking a 4-0 lead at Halftime.
It was a total midfield dominance as East Bengal played a huge flurry of passes that made Lajong midfield to be non-existent. After the break, Enrique was taken off and Jaime Santos was put in and soon he was put through on a ball on the right by Kassim Aidaara which he perfectly put across the box for Joby Justin, but Joby faked and it was none other than Laldanmawia Ralte who pounced on the ball and finished with his right to score his first hat-trick in I-League. Laldanmawia Ralte became only the third Indian to score a Hat-trick for East Bengal in NFL/I-League combined, others were Alvito (2002-03 vs HAL) and Bhaichung (2005-06 vs Sporting Club de Goa).
The game ended 5-0 for East Bengal as they leaped into the third spot with 31 points from 15 matches, with a game less played than Chennai City FC who sits on the top with 34 points. East Bengal will look to catch Chennai City FC as they face Churchill Brothers on Sunday at the Salt Lake Stadium.