Shillong Lajong FC were down to 10 from the 25th minute of the match. There was no dearth of creativity in the East Bengal midfield. The East Bengal forward line combined well with the midfielders, and repeated raids with bursts of speed was a constant reminder of the potential of coach Trevor James Morgan's boys.
But then just one goal separated the two teams till the 89th minute. Sanju Pradhan's 29-th minute right-footer from almost 30 yards and curling away from the goalkeeper, hit the inside of the upright and went in. That strike had nothing to do with Lajong being down to 10 men just like it was no certificate of East Bengal's creativity or dominance in the match.
A thumping right-footer from central defender Uga Okpara following a flag-kick and a defensive error from Lajong seemed a consolation after the series of missed opportunities by East Bengal.
The two goals apart, Lajong defended with grit while East Bengal created ways of missing chances and Morgan's sideline antics were not misplaced.