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Dempo hold insipid East Bengal

When Abel Hammond's piledriver flew past Dempo goalkeeper Laxmikant Kuttimani only to take a thumping deflection off the near post, East Bengal coach Philippe de Ridder jumped in frustration.

sports Updated: Jan 29, 2010 23:05 IST
HT Correspondent

When Abel Hammond's piledriver flew past Dempo goalkeeper Laxmikant Kuttimani only to take a thumping deflection off the near post, East Bengal coach Philippe de Ridder jumped in frustration.

With seven minutes to go for the final whistle, Hammond's try was the best East Bengal could muster. They had gone inexplicably cold, belying expectations that they would finally break the jinx of never winning against Dempo in Goa.

In the end they settled for a goalless draw against the I-League table-toppers in Margao on Friday.

East Bengal stand eighth on the table with 17 points from 12 matches. Dempo finished the 12th round leading the table with 23 points.

Dempo did well to contain Baichung Bhutia and Yusif Yakubu. Not only Alvito d'Cunha and Hammond in the flanks, even central midfielder Mehtab Hossain was rendered unproductive by Climax Lawrence and Co.

East Bengal still had their chances. In the early minutes, Bhutia's headed effort off a long cross from the right flank almost eluded Kuttimani. The goalkeeper was again called into action when Yakubu unleashed a long-ranger.