The goal drought continues for East Bengal. So does the customary good performance that gets shrouded by fluffing easy chances. After 21 I-League matches, East Bengal have scored 20 goals, the least of all teams. Though they are inching towards the safety mark (currently ninth with 25 points), it's an uncomfortable statistic, especially after Yusif Yakubu and Abel Hammond spearhead the attack.
Hammond's performance was good enough to silence a few critics, but with a shoddy Yakubu alongside, East Bengal paid through their nose against an opponent who were saved by an efficient Felix D'Souza under the horizontal.
Bhaichung Bhutia didn't even make it to the reserve bench due to a hamstring pull but that didn't impede East Bengal. They kept hounding the defences but none could be decisive in their thrust for the winner. Sporting had one look at the goal and made it count. Defender Saikat Saha Roy messed up in challenging Joseph Pereira, allowing him to take a left-footed drive squeezed in from the left. Nabi restored parity when he latched on to a long ball from Hammond, evaded Felix who left charge to challenge him, and coolly slotted home.