I-League: Debutant Enrique Esqueda’s double helps East Bengal beat Neroca 2-0
New signing Enrique Esqueda scored a brace on debut as East Bengal thumped Neroca 2-0 to get off to a winning start in their I-League opener at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium on Saturday.
With two new coaches at the helm, both East Bengal and Neroca looked dangerous in their attacks and while the home team dominated ball possession, it was the visitors, who were luckier in their attacks resulting in their perfect start to the league.
Former Mexican international Esqueda gave East Bengal the lead only 10 minutes into the match when a long-throw from Manoj Mohammed was sent into his feet from an Aryn Williams’ header. Esqueda made no mistake to give his side the lead in his debut match.
Down by a goal, Neroca immediately upped their ante and almost pulled off an equaliser and it took a 25th-minute goal-line clearance from Manoj to save the day for the visitors. East Bengal goalkeeper Rakshit Dagar’s feeble clearance of a cross from the left flank found Malemnganba Meitei inside the box. And with Dagar down, the former North-East United man had the entire goal but only found Manoj.
Neroca also had Katsumi Yusa and Eduardo Ferreira – two former East Bengal players – playing for them and therefore tempers were bound to follow. Hence, it was a no-brainer when Katsumi had to be stretched-off in the first-half.
But just as Neroca’s plans took a dent after Yusa had to be stretched off, East Bengal were awarded a penalty. Denechandra Meitei clipped Danmawia inside the penalty box leaving the referee with no other option but a penalty. Esqueda stepped up and converted to put East Bengal 2-0 ahead.
Neroca’s Spanish goalkeeper Mauro Boerchio guessed the right way but failed to stop the powerful striker.
But Neroca were not to be bogged down and continued their attacks despite going down twice. They eventually could have pulled one back in the 73rd minute but once again it was a goalline clearance – this time from Esqueda – that kept East Bengal’s lead intact.
Eudardo’s header from a corner looked destined to rest inside the net but Esqueda pulled off a goalline clearance to mark of a splendid debut and help East Bengal get to a winning start.
East Bengal will next face Shillong Lajong for their consecutive match on the road on November 1, while Neroca next plays Gokulam Kerala at home one day earlier.
Image Source: Goal.com