Resilient Red & Gold Brigade Secure Crucial Home Win Against Chennaiyin FC

East Bengal FC continued their fight for a playoff spot with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Chennaiyin FC in a pulsating encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium on Monday. Nandhakumar Sekar’s second-half strike proved to be the difference, as the Red & Gold Brigade displayed grit and determination to secure all three points.

Despite needing a win to remain in contention for the top six, the opening half saw the visitors, Chennaiyin FC, control the pace of the game. Their attackers, Rahim Ali, Jordan Murray, and Farukh Choudhary, created several promising opportunities, but the East Bengal defense, marshaled by the dependable Prabhsukhan Gill in goal, stood firm.

East Bengal coach, Carlos Cuadrat, recognized the need for a change in approach at halftime. His tactical adjustments, including the introduction of three substitutes, proved pivotal. One of these substitutions, P.V. Vishnu, injected much-needed energy into the midfield, providing East Bengal with a renewed attacking impetus.

With Vishnu spearheading their attacks, East Bengal started to find their rhythm, utilizing the flanks effectively. This pressure eventually paid off in the 65th minute when Nandhakumar Sekar, once again the hero for the Red & Gold Brigade, rose to the occasion.

He met a long cross from the left with a powerful shot that took a fortuitous deflection off Chennaiyin defender Bikash Yumnam, sending the ball past the despairing goalkeeper and into the net.

East Bengal almost doubled their lead in the 84th minute when Vishnu set up the Brazilian striker, Cleiton Silva, with a golden opportunity. However, Silva’s powerful right-footed shot was well-blocked by a last-ditch effort from Chennaiyin defender Sarthak Golui.

Chennaiyin FC also had their chances, with their best opportunity coming in the 62nd minute. Vincy Barreto’s clever back-heel found Murray, whose powerful header was comfortably saved by Prabhsukhan Gill.

The final whistle blew, sending the passionate East Bengal fans at the Salt Lake Stadium into a frenzy. This crucial victory not only propelled them to the eighth spot in the standings but also rekindled their hopes of reaching the playoffs.

Analyzing the match at the post match conference, Coach Cuadrat said, “We played a very bad first half, but we played well in the second half. We were superior in the second half. In the first half, I think that Chennaiyin FC deserved to be in front and score.

But we made substitutions (in the second half). It’s our job to try to make things work. I think we can be satisfied with our performance in the second half and the final result (three points), that is the important thing,”

While Coach Cuadrat will be pleased with his team’s fighting spirit and resilience, there will be areas to address in the coming matches. The boys will now make the trip to Bhubaneshwar as they take on the league leaders Odisha FC away from home at the Kalinga Stadium on Thursday.

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