Kolkata: Lalrindika Ralte on Wednesday scored to hand East Bengal a solitary-goal win over Selangor FA in their AFC Cup Group H opener -- the club's first in 21 matches in the Asian competition. Attacking midfielder Ralte struck in the 44th minute, which eventually decided the fate of the match at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan.
The win meant East Bengal got off to a positive start, unlike Churchill Brothers, who had been thrashed 0-3 by Hong Kong's champion side, Kitchee Sports Club in an away match on Tuesday. Both teams had their moments but could not really capitalise on the limited chances that came their way.
And once the hosts broke the deadlock just before the break, the East Bengal defence, led by the experienced Uga Okpara, stood firm, not allowing the visitors to score the equaliser. Okpara, who had Raju Gaikwad for company in central defence, were well-supported by Harmanjyot Singh Khabra and Saumik Dey on the flanks.
Even as their record in the second-tier Asian club tournament hasn't been that good of late, the red-and-gold brigade came into the match having hit a run of good form in both the Kolkata League as well as the I-League, leading the pack in both competitions.
The Federation Cup champions met the Malaysian club after a gap of 41 years. This is East Bengal's fourth consecutive participation and seventh overall in the AFC Cup.