Durand Cup Football: Rajasthan United hold East Bengal to a goalless draw

Harpal Singh Bedi

Kolkata: In a fast-paced match formidable East Bengal missed chances galore and played a goalless draw with Rajasthan United (RU) in the Group B of the Durand Cup at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan (KBK) here on Thursday. 

East Bengal had the more chances in the game and also more possession, while Rajasthan United missed a penalty in the second-half, as they came out with four points in two games, remaining unbeaten against both the local giants Mohun Bagan and EB. 

They along with Mumbai City FC are the top two in the group currently and favourites to qualify.

East Bengal coach Stephen Constantine made four changes to their starting line-up brining in Alex Lima, Tuhin Das, Jerry Lalrinzuala and Cypriot Charalambos Kyriacou in place of the injured Naorem Mahesh Singh, Mobashir Rahman, Pritam Singh and Wahengbam Angousana. 

RU coach Pushpender Kundu made just one change bringing in Brazilian forward Sergio Barboza Junior in place of Alister Anthony.

EB were in charge from the get go as their rivals absorbed the pressure in front of a noisy 12,000 strong home crowd. Just after an injured Ankit Mukherjee was replaced by Md. Rakip, Aniket Jadhav, who had a super game down the right flank, drove into the box and cut back for Amarjeet to pounce, but his punch grazed the cross-bar to go over the target.

A minute later, he found Suhair, who was wasteful on the day, but the RU keeper Niraj Kumar was up to the task.

Lalremsanga Fanai got RU first shot on target off a corner, but his acrobatic volley was straight at the keeper and Kamaljit made a fine save..

In the second minute of injury-time in the first-half, Aniket produced another penetrating run inside the box finding Suhair again but the forward could not trap cleanly with just the keeper to beat in front of goal.

Stephen Constantine effected two changes at the break replacing Amarjit Kiyam with Souvik Chakrabarti and Spaniard Ivan Gonzalez with Kyriacou.

However,  Rajasthan United had the golden chance to score in the 61st minute, when Lalremsanga was brought down inside the box by Souvik and referee Crystal John had no hesitation pointing to spot. The effort from Barboza Junior was weak though and Kamaljit saved easily.

The changes kept coming in from both camps thick and fast thereafter but none of the defensive citadels could be breached on the day with Melroy Assisi being awarded the Man of the Match for his robust work at the heart of the RU defence.

HSB

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