Selasa, 23 April 2013

AFC Cup: East Bengal held by Selangor, but go through to knockout stage

Kolkata giants East Bengal Club were held to a late two-all draw by Selangor FA in their fifth AFC Cup Group H match at the Shah Alam Stadium in Selangor. The red-and-gold dropped two points, but the one point gained was enough to seal their passage to the AFC Cup pre-quarterfinals as they stay top of their group on 11 points.

The hosts made a lively start amid wet conditions and they could have taken the lead when Michal Kubala fired in a low shot from 25 metres that forced goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu into a diving save. But it was the visitors who took the lead in the 23rd minute after Chidi Edeh attempted to burst through the middle of the Selangor defence but his progress was halted and the ball ricocheted off a Selangor defender to Orji, who took the ball into space on the left of the box before firing it between the legs of keeper Sharbinee Allawee Ramli. Selangor went close to levelling the score in the 35th minute when Raimi Mohammed Nor fired a shot across the face of the East Bengal goal that was just too far in front of a lurking Ramzul Adenan and the home side suffered a blow when Kubala had to be taken off injured just before half-time.

Things got worse early in the second half when Lalrindika Ralte fired home at the third attempt in the 54th minute after Chidi's shot had been saved by Sharbinee and Orji had his effort cleared by a defender. East Bengal looked to head for an easy victory before substitute striker Manandeep Singh saw red for a late sliding tackle on Kunanlan just minutes after he had come on.

Selangor had offered little in attack until then but they came out of their shell as in the 79th minute Shukor Jusoh fired a fierce rising shot from 25 metres that found the top corner of the net despite Gurpreet getting a touch to the ball. Now the home team moved forward in search of an equaliser in the closing stages and Kunanlan forced a good save out of Gurpreet before the Red Giants got the equaliser deep into injury-time. With almost all of the East Bengal players dropping back into their box to defend an Amri Yahyah free-kick, the ball was played instead to an unmarked Aizuddin, whose low drive from 30 metres went through a crowd of players and flashed past Gurpreet to secure a point for the home side.

With the win East Bengal moved into a continental knockout stage for the first time since 2004 and if they avoid a defeat against Vietnam's Sai Gon Xuan Thanh next week at home, then they will finish top of Group H.

East Bengal Club
30-Gurpreet Singh Sandhu - 7-Harmanjot Singh Khabra (79' 8-Thokchom Naoba Singh), 4-Uga Okpara, 16-Gurwinder Singh, 25-Robert Lalthalmuana - 35-Ishfaq Ahmed, 14-Mehtab Hossain [C], 18-Penn Ikechukwu Orji, 21-Lalrindika Ralte - 27-Andrew Barisic (74' 26-Manandeep Singh), 10-Chidi Edeh (89' 6-Baljit Singh Sahni)

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