Dudu nets 4 as East Bengal trounce Chennai City, keep I-League title hopes alive
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Dudu nets 4 as East Bengal trounce Chennai City, keep I-League title hopes alive

East Bengal’s 7-1 win against Chennai City FC is highest of the I-League this season, with Dudu Omagbemi scoring four goals

football Updated: Feb 24, 2018 20:14 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Dudu Omagbemi,East Bengal,Chennai City FC
Dudu’s four goals helped East Bengal thrash Chennai City 7-1 in the I-League on Saturday. (AIFF)

Adding style to substance, East Bengal kept alive the battle for the I-League swatting aside Chennai City FC 7-1; the competition’s biggest victory of the season taking them to the second spot on 29 points from 16 games.

Dudu Omagbemi got four goals in a match that ended as a contest by the 32nd minute with Chennai City FC looking clueless in trying to cope with an attacking trio that also had Ansumana Kromah and Mahmoud Al-Amnah.

East Bengal will now hope for Minerva Punjab FC, who have lost two home games in a row and are also on 29 points, to have a serious attack of Monday blues when Aizawl FC come visiting. “After our 2-2 draw here, I had told my mates this team (Minerva) is finished. We are definitely in with a chance,” said Omagbemi.

East Bengal made four changes to the team that lost 1-2 to Gokulam Kerala FC and only one, Gurwinder Singh replacing the suspended Arnab Mondal, was forced. Coach Khalid Jamil also showed he was more flexible than usually given credit for, starting all five imports in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Kromah adding width and Katsumi Yusa dropping deep to pair Cavin Lobo in front of the back four.

After the teams shared half-chances, East Bengal took charge showing the kind of poise and purpose that might have taken some of their fans by surprise. The massive banner critical of the officials’ functioning seemed out of place at Salt Lake stadium on Saturday as East Bengal played further up the park than usual, used the flanks and also tried to attack through the middle.

It came together in the 20th minute when Brandon Vanlalremdika stopped Chennai City skipper Soosai Raj’s run and in a flash, East Bengal left-back Lalram Chullova found Al-Amnah. Twice, the Syrian, again the fountainhead of most attacks, was denied before his left-footer opened a gap between the teams.

The gap got more yawning three minutes later and again it involved Amnah and Chullova before the ball careened into goal off Chennai City FC defender Dharmaraj Ravanan. “We couldn’t recover from those goals,” said Chennai City FC coach V Soundararajan after their first loss in six games. They stay on 16 points from 17 games.

A communications breakdown between Uzbek central defender Veniamin Shumeiko and goalie Kabir T led to Omagbemi opening his account. That was in the 32nd minute and even Manoranjan Bhattacharya, East Bengal’s somewhat saturnine manager and club legend, allowed himself a smile.

Omagbemi netted again in the 49th and 56th minutes, the final deliveries coming from Al-Amnah and Kromah. The Nigerian then swung his leg like a Ferris wheel and scored, off Yusa’s corner-kick, in the 60th.

“When I joined (before the Jan. 21 game against Mohun Bagan), the team was not in good shape. I too needed time. The pressure was getting to be too much…I was waiting for a day like today,” said Omagbemi, 32. He now has five goals in six games.

Between Omagbemi’s third and fourth goals, Chennai City FC substitute Mashoor Shereef netted to make it 1-5 in the 59th minute.

East Bengal saved the best for the last with Gabriel Fernandes’s curler, off a Kromah assist, nestling in the top corner in the 84th minute.

First Published: Feb 24, 2018 18:05 IST