Vasco (Goa), December 5: SC East Bengal suffered their third loss on the trot in the Indian Super League as NorthEast United beat them 2-0 at the Tilak Maidan Stadium here on Saturday.
An own goal by Surchandra Singh handed NorthEast United a 33rd minute lead in an intense first-half that saw the red-and-gold’s penalty claims being rejected by the referee.
SC East Bengal stepped up their attack after the interval but the Highlanders sealed the issue in the injury time with substitute Rochharzela scoring a brilliant goal from a counter-attack (90+1).
It was NEUFC’s other substitute VP Suhair who set it up from the right flank as their diminutive 22-year-old Mizoram midfielder picked up pace to shoot it past Debjit Majumder and take them to second place in the table.
The win took the Highlanders to the second spot with eight points as they remained unbeaten from four matches.
Robbie Fowler’s SC East Bengal had another impressive day in possession football and looked the better side but they were let down by some dubious refereeing decisions as they remained rooted at the bottom of the table without any point from three matches.
Fowler must have thought his side had a penalty in the 20th minute when Maghoma, after taking a touch in the box, was tripped by Mehta. It looked like a clear foul but the referee waved play on.
At the hour mark, SCEB had another penalty claim when Anthony Pilkington’s shot at goal seemed to have brushed a NEUFC defender’s arm before being parried by the keeper.
SCEB coach Robbie Fowler made a solitary change to his starting XI which suffered a 0-3 defeat to Mumbai City FC with Sehnaj Singh coming in place of Daniel Fox.
NEUFC coach Gerard Nus continued to shuffle his squad making five changes to the side that drew against FC Goa. Gurmeet, Ashutosh Mehta, Mashoor Shereef, Kwesi Appiah and Ninthoinganba Meetei were back in the playing eleven.
SCEB’s first opportunity arrived in the fourth minute from a Jacques Maghoma free-kick but Scot Neville’s header from the near-post fell into Gurmeet Singh’s arms.
NEUFC continued to hit their opponents on the counter as they had in previous matches. And that tactic paid off at the half-hour mark when they took the lead in a fortuitous manner. Appiah made a fine run on the right flank and found Sylla in the box. The striker failed to make good contact, but the ball deflected off defender Surchandra Singh’s leg and rolled into the SCEB goal.
Sylla had a chance to settle the game in the 71st minute but with just the keeper to beat, the Guinean’s shot went wide. But NEUFC eventually doubled their lead off a late counter attack.
Suhair Vadakkepeedika picked out Rochharzela in the box and the youngster found the back of the net to end SCEB’s hopes. (PTI)