KOLKATA: East Bengal registered a convincing 5-0 win over Tollygunge Agragami on Tuesday in their quest to claim eighth successive Calcutta Football League crown.
This was East Bengal’s biggest win of the season so far, and powered by a hat-trick from Willis Plaza (26th minute, 50th and 62nd) along with goals from Nikhil Pujari (82nd) and Laldanmawaia Ralte (83rd).
Khalid Jamil knew nothing less than a win would matter with Mohun Bagan having notched up a win against Peerless SC yesterday, as East Bengal were aggressive from the beginning as they played with quick short passes followed by long balls from the flanks that caught the rival defense napping.
The win took East Bengal to the top of the table, tied on 22 points with Mohun Bagan, but ahead thanks to a better goal difference.
On an overcast afternoon, East Bengal dominated proceedings from the very beginning and kept the ball in the rival half itself during the opening quarter. However, with the Tollygunge defense staying deep, East Bengal were finding it tough to penetrate.
Nonetheless, East Bengal almost took the lead when Mohammed Rafique pumped up a ball from the midfield in the 16th minute. The perfect pass found Gabriel Fernandes on the run just outside the box, but the winger’s effort went agonizingly wide.
Having missed a host of chances, East Bengal finally broke the deadlock in the 26th minute when Plaza scored with a well placed header from a corner beating the Tollygunge keeper Sourav Chakraborty.
East Bengal, thereafter, continued to dominate proceedings creating multiple chances for Plaza and Mahmoud Al Amna up front. However, the duo failed to capitalize and the score stayed 1-0 going into the breather.
The second half began with East Bengal pushing further up as they came out with the intent to score. The constant pressure paid off as the Red and Golds doubled their lead seven minutes after restart as Plaza dribbled past three defenders to makes a crisp finish to corner of the net.
Trying to match their fancied rivals, Tollygunge also played an attacking game, leaving lots of gaps in the process, which East Bengal exploited and made it 3-0 midway through the half after Plaza dispatched the ball from inside the box to complete his hat-trick after receiving the ball from Lalramchullova.
There was no respite for Tollygunge as East Bengal continued to pile pressure on the Tollygunge defense and after missing some half chances made it 4-0 in the 82nd minute when Nikhil slotted home from substitute Jobby Justin’s pass.
Laldanmwia then completed the trouncing when he nodded in a Cavin Lobo cross in the 84th minute.