It was not a convincing win for the table leaders who struck through Penn’s 34th-minute controversial goal. HASC’s protest was ignored by referee P Bikramjeet of Delhi.
The win helped East Bengal consolidate their position atop the standings with 29 points, while HASC remained on 11 points. East Bengal missed chances aplenty as their leading goalscorer Tolgay Ozbey and Robin Singh struggled to convert.
Their first chance came early in the tenth minute when the Australian forward failed to score, hitting the side of the net. Minutes later Delhi lad Robin failed to utilise a clinical cross from Sanju Pradhan.
Penn provided the much needed goal for the hosts which was protested by HASC. Robin set it up for Penn who took a left-footed shot that found the crosspiece on its way and appeared to have hit the ground inches inside the goal-line.
HASC protested claiming that the ball did not cross the goal-line but the referee stood ground and awarded the winning goal to East Bengal. In Kannur, hosts Viva Kerala came from behind to hold Chirag United to a 1-1 draw.
Chirag forged ahead in the 48th minute through Mohammed Rafeeq but Viva’s striker PK Anilkumar equalised in the 79th minute. In Pune, Ebi Sukore’s 36th minute strike gave Mumbai FC a 1-0 victory over ONGC.
Meanwhile, Churchill Brothers also scored a 1-0 win over Pune FC with Kayne Vincent scoring the winner in the 65th minute for the Goan side.