Enrique Esqueda double helps East Bengal beat Neroca FC
The visiting East Bengal notched a comfortable 2-0 win over Neroca FC in the I-League here Saturday, with Mexican recruit Enrique Esqueda scoring both the goals.
The match saw the home side dominate possession but their opponents always looked in control, particularly following Esqueda’s early strike in the 10th minute.
Esqueda doubled the lead through a penalty in early second-half to seal the deal for the Kolkata giants at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium.
The game gave enough evidence of the quality the two sides possess but the day belonged to East Bengal who logged full points in what was a satisfactory result for newly appointed Spanish coach Alejandro Menendez Garcia.
The home team incidentally also had a new Spanish coach and Manuel Fraile opted to start with a flat 4-4-2 formation. With Subash Singh and Nigerian Felix Chidi up front, Japanese Katsumi Yusa was left to lead the attack from midfield against his former club. Australian Aryn Williams was supposed to play as the holding midfielder but ended up playing deeper than one thought. Italian Mauro Boerchio debuted for Neroca under the woodwork instead of the veteran Lalit Thapa.
East Bengal had Jobby Justin and Esqueda ahead of him as target men and played attacking wingers in the two Raltes, Laldanmawia and Lalrindika to begin proceedings.
Rakshit Dagar was the pick in goal and ahead of him was a solid back four represented by Spaniards Borja and Costa Rican World Cupper Jhonny Acosta with Kamalpreet and a brilliant Lalramchulova completing the lineup. Impressive under-22 youngster Yami Longwah played the role of a linkman.
Esqueda stamped his class on the I-League early with a classy finish. Off a long throw from wing-back Manoj Mohammad into the box from the left flank, Aryn Williams tried to head clear but his effort only managed to find Esqueda in the middle of the box. The Mexican brought it down with his chest beautifully, turned and nailed a right footer on the bounce over an outstretched Boerchio in the Neroca goal.
With the hosts down early, the otherwise quality game saw some needless frayed tempers.
Katsumi was clearly the target of some needle and in all three players including Eduardo Ferriera, Singham Subash and Manoj got themselves booked in the three flare-ups which happened across the two-halves. The home team lost Katsumi to injury just before the end of the first half to further dent their plans.
Neroca had the lion’s share of possession through the game but could not create enough clear chances.
Midfielder Malemngamba Meetei was guilty of missing their best chance in the 25th minute when, off a wonderful ball by Katsumi out to the left flank, Singham Subash floated a cross which Rakshit Dagar in the East Bengal goal made heavy weather of.
Malemn, on the rebound, with the goalkeeper down and out, essayed a feeble effort which was saved on the goaline by Yami Longwah.