EAST BENGAL BEGAN THEIR Calcutta Football League title defence with an emphatic victory over newcomers Rainbow AC, thanks to hat-trick by debutant Suhair VP.
Playing in front of some 15,000 vocal fans in their own ground, East Bengal started strong and created chances from minute one. Al Amnah rattled the Rainbow defence early on and just about 10 minutes in, Suhair shook off his marker and sent a difficult left-footer through to the goal. Rainbow, who have come up through the divisions over the last decade to finally reach the highest level in state football, were in for a reckoning about what it's like to play against the big clubs.
Rainbow tried to strike back through some set-pieces but failed to utilise the couple of corners they got in the first half. Just before half-time, Lalramchullova's brilliant cross reached Suhair in the box and he pushed it into the net. At half-time, the scoreline read 2-0 in favour of the Red and Golds.
Just after the match resumed the hat-trick came for Suhair, as he beat the defence with a sudden sprint and chipped the ball past the keeper. It was a historic moment for the youngster from Kerala; no one has scored a hat-trick for East Bengal on their club debut for a long time.
Brandon, one of the Aizawl FC players who came over to East Bengal this season, was having a good game throughout and his final vindication came with the goal he scored some 70 minutes in. East Bengal were 4 goals ahead and they decided to take it easy for the rest of the game. Rainbow caught them on a counter 75 minutes in, Chhotu Mondol being the scorer. But it was too late. The match ended with a 4-1 victory for the Red and Golds, and a good start for Khalid Jamil's new job.
East Bengal are looking to make history by winning the CFL for the 8th season in a row. Their main title rivals, Mohammedan Sporting and Mohun Bagan, will play their first matches over the next two days. With the high tempo set by the defending champs, they will have a lot to match up to.
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