A brace from Penn Orji helped East Bengal shake off their year-end woes to defeat Air India here on Monday and end the first-phase of I-league 5 on a winning note. They are currently lie third with 26 points.
Orji didn’t let Mehtab Hossain’s absence affect East Bengal as he held the midfieldtogether. That eased the pressure on the likes of Sushanth Matthew and Harmanjot Khabra and allowed Sanju Pradhan to focus on the right flank.
In the 12th-minute, Robin Singh’s header off a short corner took a ricochet off the horizontal. As the Noida lad limped off just before half-time, Orji struck with a clever chip over Air India custodian Harshad Meher after the ball was headed his way by Tolgay Ozbey.
Air India substitute Henry Ezeh struck just after half-timewhen he headed in a neat cross from Bijoy Basfore after a throw-in from the right flank.
It set off a period of uncertainty for East Bengal but the red and gold continued to create opportunities thanks to the consolidated midfield effort and helped by Meher’s penchant to leave charge. It soon resulted in the winner when Orji slammed home a screamer off Pradhan’s square pass from the right.