Kolkata: East Bengal rode on an Edeh Chidi first-half strike and some moments of luck to pip Pune FC 1-0 in a round three I-League fixture, here on Monday. Man of the match Chidi scored the winning goal in the 28th minute from a rebound after Pune's Srikanth Ramu failed to clear a ball and the Nigerian placed it to the right of opponent goalkeeper Shahinlal Meloly.
East Bengal now have seven points, while Pune remained with six from three matches each. Besides Chidi's matchwinner it was East Bengal goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal who stood tall under the bar before pulling out in the second-half after picking an injury.
In fact, the scoreline could have easily read 3-0 in favour of East Bengal at half time but two misses by Manandeep Singh and Chidi meant that the host had to remain content with just the solitary goal. It turned out costly for Pune FC as they had missed an early goal in the 8th minute when Arata Izumi failed to capitalise on a Karma Tsewang cross.
Afterwards, East Bengal dominated the show giving Pune FC the jitters. In the very first threat for the visitors, Penn beat Caitano Costa on right, chipping for Manandeep Singh who went over ahead of defender Srikanth Ramu.
In another move, Penn was again on the right to find Chidi who failed to connect from inside box. Chidi missed an open net right after the break when he misfired from an advantageous position. Barring one move by East Bengal, it was Pune FC who stole the show in the last 45 minutes but only to see the luck favoring the home side. East Bengal held on to their slender lead with a hat-trick of misses by Jeje Lalpekhula in the later stage of the match.
"We were under immense pressure in the second half... There were a few strokes of luck. You need luck and today we take that," East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan conceded.
East Bengal should give credit to goalkeeper Mondal for executing a fine save from Jeje's powerful rightfooter in the 72nd minute.
The Morgan's boys found themselves at the receiving end with all the action shifted to their box as Jeje looked at his aggressive best but only to return unlucky. East Bengal had to replace their goalkeeper Mondal after he injured his left elbow in a melee in the 78th minute.
Asked whether he would be available for their crucial November 3 fixture against Dempo, Morgan said,"We don't know yet but his elbow is swollen."
Pune coach Derrick Pereira gave credit to his boys and said,"We fought well. Clearly we were a better side today. We had our moments. But few mistakes in the defence cost us the match."