I-League: EB rally to hold Minerva 2-2
Barasat: East Bengal came from two goals down to hold leaders Minerva Punjab FC to a 2-2
draw in an entertaining I-League encounter at the Barasat Stadium here on Tuesday.
Sukhdev Singh (20th) and Chencho Gyeltshen (33rd) had put Minerva in a commanding position in the first half before Joby Justin (59th) and Brandon Vanlalremdika (89th) pulled two back in the second to share the spoils and keep the heavyweights in the title race.
The result means East Bengal remain third with 20 points from 12 games while Minerva are in pole position, dropping two points after four-back-to-back wins, having 26 points from 11 games.
East Bengal made wholesale changes to the team that lost to Mohun Bagan 0-2. Goalkeeper Ubaid CK, Mehtab Singh, Deepak Kumar, Cavin Lobo, Bazie Armand, Laldanmawia Ralte and Justin all came in with keeper Luis Barreto, Lalramchullova, Arnab Mondal, Mohamed Rafique, Mahmoud Al Amna, Prakash Sarkar and the just-released Willis Plaza making way.
Minerva, on the other hand, ringed in two changes from the Neroca FC game, Souvik Das and Deepak Devrani playing in place of Altamash Sayed and Abhishek Ambekar.
From the kick-off, the in-form visitors looked menacing with Chencho coming close to scoring in the 11th minute.
Minerva took the lead through Sukhdev after East Bengal failed to clear the ball from the a corner and it fell to Kamalpreet Singh who volleyed it back into the box for his teammate to first see his effort saved by home keeper Ubaid and then score on the rebound.
Three minutes into the half-hour mark, the visitors doubled their advantage after East Bengal defenders Armand Bazie and Eduardo Ferreira clashed with each other making way for Chencho to take advantage, turn sharply inside the box and side-foot the ball into the bottom corner.
Stung by the two goals, home team coach Khalid Jamil added firepower up front with Asamuana Kromah coming in for Mehtab.
In first half added time, Yusa Katsumi was brought down inside the box by Guy Eric Dano but the referee did not give a penalty amid huge uproar by the hosts.
After the break though, East Bengal pegged back from the spot when Kassim Aidara hacked down Laldanmawia Ralte. Katsumi failed to convert from the spot as away keeper Kiran Chemjong dived to his right to deny the Japanese.
Minutes later though, the Red and Golds finally found the back of the net when Justin heaed in Katsumi's corner.
The hosts then applied the pressure to equalise as Minerva sat back and defended deep in their own
In the dying moments of the match, East Bengal drew level
as Brandon slotted home from Katsumi's pass.