Combative draw marks East Bengal’s final match of the year

Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium witnessed a dogged clash on Friday night as East Bengal FC and Odisha FC battled to their first ever goalless draw in the Indian Super League (ISL).

While Odisha dominated possession with a staggering 67%, it was East Bengal who carved out the clearer chances, ultimately leaving both teams to remain entrenched in the mid-table battle.

From the outset, it was evident that Odisha intended to control the flow of the game.

The Juggernauts, known for their possession-based style, kept the ball meticulously, but struggled to translate that dominance into meaningful opportunities.

Their lone real glimmer of hope came in the ninth minute when Isak Vanlalruatfela, fed by Lalthathanga Khawlhring, burst through the East Bengal defence, only to see his shot sail off target.

East Bengal, not seeing much of the ball, preferred to respond with clinical counter-attacks.

Nandhakumar, was at the heart of the action against the side he formerly represented, looking for the break at every opportunity.

In the 27th minute, he cut inside the box, leaving three Odisha defenders in his wake, before unleashing a powerful shot that Amrinder Singh, the Odisha goalkeeper, parried expertly.

The second half mirrored the first, with both teams trying to break the deadlock. East Bengal, meanwhile, continued to threaten on the break.

Spaniard Borja Herrera and the experienced Jose Antonio Pardo combined to create a golden opportunity for Cleiton Silva.

The Brazilian striker, East Bengal’s talisman, rose high to meet a delightful cross from Naorem Mahesh Singh, but his header agonisingly brushed the crossbar on the way out.

Despite the lack of goals, the match wasn’t devoid of drama.

East Bengal felt aggrieved in the final ten minutes when they were denied two penalty claims, further adding to the frustration of a missed opportunity to climb the table.

Ultimately, both teams had to settle for a point, leaving them separated by just two places in the standings.

The boys will feel buoyed by the 4th clean sheet in a row but will know that they will need to find goals sooner rather than later as the race for a playoff spot is expected to get feisty after the international break and Super Cup.

Speaking after the match, Coach Carles said, “We were fighting for the three points and the last minutes of the match showed that we were the ones pushing them (Odisha FC) back into their own box,”

“Our players were putting in a lot of effort and they were following the match plan.

We troubled them with some clear chances and were very close to the three points,” he further said.

The Red and Gold Brigade will now head into an extended break before returning in the New Year to face Hyderabad FC in the Super Cup on the 9th of January.

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