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By Bappaditya Paul

Kolkata: East Bengal today 14 August made a dramatic comeback in a Durand Cup match that was fast slipping out of its boot.

The home team literally fought it tooth and nail to snatch the victory from the boys of Bengaluru FC, who displayed some brilliant football both in attacks and defence.

The match played at Salt Lake Stadium this evening saw Bengaluru dominating through the first half, while East Bengal went on committing multiple misses.

It was none other than the captain Lalrindika Ralte of East Bengal, who made the first miss in the 12th minute by failing to convert a penalty into a goal.

Bengaluru, on the other hand went on attacking and Ajay Chhetri scored the first goal for the team in the 18th minute. Chhetri made brilliant use of a cross from Edmund Laldrinka for this.

In contrast, East Bengal boys kept on missing chances. In the very next minute, striker Pintu Mahata failed to score an equaliser. The home team missed another penalty shot in the 32nd minute.

With their team struggling on the field, East Bengal supporters got into a scuffle with Bengaluru supporters in the gallery. Timely intervention by the police prevented this from escalating.

On the field, East Bengal missed another chance to score in the 37th minute. This time it was Boithang Haokip’s boot that missed the goal. With a few more misses, the match broke for half-time with the scoreline reading 1:0 in favour of Bengaluru.

Right at the start of the second half, East Bengal substituted Haokip with K Bidyashagar Singh, a goal scorer from the two previous group matches in the tournament.

The red and yellow brigade also changed it strategy: from defensive to attacking. In the 47th and 49th minute, the team narrowly missed the Bengaluru goalpost. Yet the boys went on attacking without losing the momentum.

Amidst this, Bengaluru earned a penalty in the 56th minute. It almost scored another goal but for the brilliant save by East Bengal goalkeeper L Ralte.

Moments after this, the red and yellow brigade got into attacks and it was in the 56th minute that it finally yielded a result. Bidyashagar scored an equaliser for his team.

The scoreline now turned 1:1 to the loud cheers of East Bengal supporters in the gallery. Bengaluru boys tried to make a lead again but they could not help it in front of continuous attack by the home team.

East Bengal was still desperate to score a winning goal and it was Bidyashagar again, who achieved the feat in the 74th minute. Using a lovely pass from Pintu Mahata, he shot the ball straight into Bengaluru’s net.

This second goal from Bidyashagar ultimately helped East Bengal make a dramatic comeback in its third and last group match in the tournament.

Jaime Coladao tried a shot against Bengaluru in the 76th minute but goalkeeper Aditya Patra saved it in the last moment. The visiting team desperately tried to score an equaliser but narrowly failed on two occasions.

The match went into four-minute extra time but the only action being Bidyashagar seeing a yellow card in the 93rd minute for a rough tackle. The match ended 2:1 in favour of East Bengal.

With this, East Bengal has almost forayed into the first semi final with 9 points, the top score from Group A. It will now meet Group D winner on 21 August at Salt Lake Stadium.

Bengaluru, on the other hand, will play its third and last group match against Jamshedpur FC at the same stadium on 17 August.

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