I-League: Chennai outlast East Bengal 2-1
East Bengal lost their first game of the season as Chennai City FC continued their dream run with a 2-1 win over their more fancied rivals in an I-League clash at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Tuesday.
Sandro Rodriguez (45+2nd minute) and Nestor Gordillo (87th-minute penalty) scored for the visitors while Enrique Esqueda (52th) got his name to the scoresheet for the hosts.
The result left Chennai unbeaten in four games with 10 points. East Bengal, remain second for the time being having six points in their kitty from three outings.
In his first home game as East Bengal coach, Spaniard Alejandro Menendez made two changes to the side that started the win at Shillong Lajong.
Samad Ali Mallick replaced Lalramchullova and Brandon Vanlalremdika was relegated to the bench with Yami Longvah getting a look in.
Pedro Manzi overcame an injury scare to pass a late fitness test as Akbar Nawas stuck to the same lineup that prevailed over Gokulam Kerala in a five-goal thriller last week.
Chennai was the better team in the otherwise languid first half as East Bengal lacked penetration in the final third and were out of sorts.
Sandro and Manzi combined well to almost make Lalrindika Ralte pay for his poor back pass but Manzi failed to score from handshaking distance in front of an empty net.
Their efforts were rewarded late into injury time. Sandro, from around 30 yards, curled in a free kick that looped over the wall and found the back of the net past a hapless Rakshit Dagar in the East Bengal goal.
At halftime, the visitors led by the solitary goal.
Just after the restart, the red and gold brigade drew level. Substitute Surabuddin Mallick squared the ball from inside the box for Johnny Acosta who deftly flicked it for Esqueda with the Mexican slotting the ball home with the keeper nowhere in sight.
After the goal, East Bengal struggled to find the winner and Chennai defended in numbers and were rewarded late for their industry when Dagar brought down Pravitto Raju inside the box to give away a penalty.
Nestor did not miss from the spot as Chennai continued their excellent start to the season and remained in pole position.
(With inputs from agencies.)