East Bengal rally to beat Pune FC

East Bengal rallied from a goal down to beat Pune FC to keep their I-League title hopes alive here on Saturday.

Needing at least a point to stay in the title hunt, the Kolkata giants dug deep to come away with all three points to move to second on the table with 40 points from 23 games – one point below toppers Bengaluru FC, who have a game on hand.

After Anthony D’Souza put the hosts in front in the 39th minute at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, goals in the second-half from Edeh Chidi (72nd) and Seminlen Doungel (75th) gave East Bengal all three points.

Pune FC’s third consecutive loss means they stay in the seventh place with 31 points.

Coach Mike Snoei made five changes to the line-up handing starts to Anas Edathodika, Zohmingliana Ralte, Mumtaz Akhtar, D’Souza and Thongkhosiem Haokip.

After several half chances, Pune FC finally took the lead in the 39th minute.

Attacker Riga Mustapha found Haokip on the edge of the box down the center.

The young striker sent a cheeky through ball to Anthony inside the box who calmly slotted home from close range. Moments later, left-back Gurjinder Kumar’s long range attempt went inches wide at the far post.

Pune FC took their one goal advantage into the breather.

The hosts came out all guns blazing in the second half creating chance after chance.

However, some stubborn goalkeeping by East Bengal custodian Gurpreet Singh kept the visitors in the game.

Churchill in trouble

United SC will continue in the top-flight for at least another year after they beat 10-man defending champions Churchill Brothers 2-0 at the Nehru Stadium in Goa.

In what was dubbed as a relegation six-pointer, United got the better off Churchill with a brace of goals from Eric Brown (49th, 70th).

The win helped the Kolkata side to move on to 26 points. For Churchill, who are just a point ahead of bottom-placed Mohammedan Sporting, the wait to see whether they will be safe will continue into the last week of the season.

After a drab first-half, Eric Brown connected with a diving header which bounced over ’keeper Lalit Thapa into the net. 

Brown then made the issue safe when he received a loose ball, sprinted down into the rival box before unleasing a curling left footer that found the roof of the net.

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