Play-by-Play: East Bengal give Minerva a rude homecoming, score 5 to go top of the table
EAST BENGAL DECIMATED the Minerva Punjab defence today, ramming 5 goals past them and claiming a victory that took them to the top of the table, thanks to a hat-trick by Wedson Anselme.
The visitors started pressing ahead early with Robin Singh and Willis Plaza making their presence felt in the fianl third from the get go. 9 minutes into the game, East Bengal earned a corner just outside the Minerva penalty box after Arashpreet brought down Robin. Lalrindika Ralte delivered a pin-point free kick into the goalmouth and Wedson Anselme headed it in.
As the first half went on there were multiple chances - most of them to East Bengal - but both sides managed to hold each other off for the most part. But towards the end of the first half Rahul Bheke ran up the right flank, found Willis Plaza inside the box who dribbled past multiple defenders to make the finish. The Red and Golds were up by 2 goals at half-time, and there were indications of a major onslaught coming up in the second half.
Second half began with Minerva making two early substitutions to add fresh legs up front. Early on it seemed they were getting a grip of the game but all that was undone by a 5 minute spell that saw East Bengal score thrice.
It started with a silly handball that Wedson calmly converted to get his second. Next, Robin Singh knocked one in from close range in a massive defensive failure that allowed him a few yards of space in the Minerva box. Then Wedson knocked on in as well, completing his hat-trick.
Despite being down by 5, Minerva put on a good show in the last 20-odd minutes with Krishna and Anirudh putting together some good moves along with Victor but while their speedy wings were initiating moves, their finishing was poor throughout, which coupled with a good saves by Rehenesh made sure that East Bengal went off with a 0-5 victory.
It's a nightmare of a home debut for Minerva Punjab, but hardly a surprise considering the way they have played so far. East Bengal, meanwhile, are now at the top of the table with 13 points from 5 games, ahead of Mohun Bagan thanks to a superior goal difference.
Here's how the match unfolded, narrated in detail via our blow-by-blow real time updates from the venue...