SC East Bengal finally opened their goalscoring account while Hyderabad FC extended their unbeaten run to seven matches when the two sides with contrasting fortunes met at the Indian Super League (ISL) on Tuesday.
Aridane Santana scored twice for Hyderabad in their 3-2 victory over East Bengal. The third goal for Manuel Marquez Roca’s side was scored by Halicharan Narzary, who, along with Ashish Rai and substitute Liston Colaco had a brilliant match for Hyderabad.
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East Bengal can take home some positives too, starting with the fact that their striker -- Jacques Maghoma -- seems to have calibrated his scoring boots. The Congolese striker scored a goal in each half -- one to give East Bengal the lead in the 26th minute and the other to get them back in the hunt in the 81st. Between the two Maghoma strikes came the three Hyderabad goals -- Santana’s brace in the 56th minute (yes, absurdly, he scored within a span of seconds) and Narzary’s 68th minute deal sealer.
Robbie Fowler can take heart from the fact that his side is making progress with each match, ticking a box or two at a time. While their season is five matches old, it seems SC East Bengal are still in pre-season mode. Understandably, for there was no time for those rituals this year for anyone. The Kolkata club had an even later start and are catching up. Their last match -- against Jamshedpur -- served them their first points of the season. Against Hyderabad -- a side which looks well-oiled -- they scored their first goal of the campaign.
They went into the break with that lead, which had something to do with the fact that Hyderabad, despite controlling the tempo of the game, could not make it count at the business end of things. Also, there was a sweet save by Debjit Majumdar made off a penalty by Santana in the dying minutes of the half.
Even as the sides went into the break, one could sense that East Bengal were going to concede, going by how comfortable Hyderabad were on the offensive. They came back with the same intensity, while coach Roca’s half-time substitution, winger Liston Colaco, proved an inspired change. Colaco played part in two goals -- a lovely diagonal ball for Santana to score his second, and another brilliant assist for Narzary later.
It makes you wonder why Colaco is not in the Indian team set-up. They (the commentators) say national coach Igor Stimac is watching every single minute of the ISL from Croatia. Well, that’s his job. So, perhaps he has already taken note. In case not -- the internet is tricky these days -- Colaco and Ashish Rai, are good young blood for the side, for the future. Assuming Stimac’s work would revolve around the future since the Indian men are well and truly out for the count in the present. Digressing into the FIFA qualifiers.
All that is far away though. Hyderabad are now fifth with nine points from five matches. East Bengal are in the last spot with a point from their five outings. Fowler could again take heart from Tuesday’s opponents. Hyderabad FC finished bottom of the table last season with 10 points from 18 matches. They just had two victories. This year, they have forgotten how to lose. East Bengal could do the same. Not sure if Fowler would be around to see that happen though.
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