East Bengal, Chonburi settle for 4-4 draw

Kolkata, Mar 2 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Federation Cup champions East Bengal and Chonburi F C from Thailand shared points as they setlled for a 4-4 draw in a high voltage AFC Cup league match opener from Group “H” at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan here Wednesday night.
East Bengal could have earned full points but couldn’t due to a poor defence which looked dishevelled and cracked whenever there was any pressure.
Most of the East Bengal defenders except Oga Ukpara appeared tentative and left enough gap allowing the rival forwards to do the damage.
In an inspiring display East Bengal forced a 2-0 lead through their striker Tolgey Ozbe within 22nd minutes only to lose lead and concede a two-goal arrear within next half-an-hour’s play which came through Chonburi captain Pitob (2) and Adul Lahso and Ekaphan.
With two goals in arrear red and yellow fought back and restored parity striking twice again during the later part of the second half. After Baljit Saini reduced the margin in the 77th minute, Ravinder Singh converted a spot kick to keep East Bengal’s honour in tact.
With veteran medio Chaiman and forward Adul Lahso combingn well and scheming most of the moves, Chonburi dominated the proceedings for most larger part of the game except at the beginning and then towards the end.
They also displayed fine and accurate passings and quick changing of positions to outwit their rivals.
East Bengal started promisingly and forged ahead in the 7th minute when Tolgey capitalizing a pass from his compatriot beat Chonburi keeper Sinthaweechai with an accurate shot (1-0).
Inspired with the early lead, the home team kept up their pressure and Tolgey struck again in the 22nd minute (2-0).
Chonburi made their first good move in the 29th minute and reduced the margin. After Thai medio Ekaphan’s powerful shot as saved by East Bengal custodian Sandip Nundy and came rebound, Pitob smartly made it home (1-2).
A minute after this goal, Tolgey had to leave the field for injury. As the East Bengal attack lost their sting, the rival forwards got enough space to force force attacks and finally drew level a couple of minutes before half-time (2-2), Andul Lahso scoring a gem of a goal with a rasping drive which beat Nundy completely.
The second half saw Chonburi dictating terms and banged in two more goals as East Bengal defence looked totally hapless. While Pitob displayed his class to score again to take the lead in the 67th minute (3-2), medio Ekaphan buttressed it further with an angular shot which hit the post and went in ( 4-2).
In spite of being in arrear for two goals, the home side never lost heart and made an all out attempt towards the end  resulting in the reduced  made by Baljit Saini in the 73rd minute. Following a combined move Robin Singh headed the ball to Baljit inside the box and the later tapped it home to keep East Benal hope alive.
Baljit’s goal gave necessary oxygen to East Bengal who initiated a number of raids and earned a penalty four minutes later when Robin Singh was trapped by a Chonburi defender inside the dreaded zone . Ravinder Singh kept his cool and converted the spot kick neatly (4-4) to roaring cheers from the home crowd.
Chonburi during the added time got another fine opportunity to take the lead but Ekaphan missed the target from a very close range with only keeper to beat.
(Reporting by Manik Banerjee)

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