Margao, February 14: SC East Bengal suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat to Kerala Blasters FC in a Hero Indian Super League match at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Monday. Enes Sipovic’s second-half header proved to be enough for the Manjappadas to take home all three points.
With the victory, Kerala Blasters climbed to third place on the ISL table, with 26 points from 15 games. SC East Bengal stay at 10th, with 10 points from 17 games.
SCEB coach Mario Rivera handed 23-year old attacker Rahul Paswan and midfielder Fran Sota the start for the first time. Kerala Blasters began the game on the front foot, seeing more of the ball, while SC East Bengal looked to catch the KBFC defence off-guard through quick counter-attacks. Antonio Perosevic was especially lethal on the right flank, his skills, stepovers, and speed getting the better of the KBFC defence time and again. The Croatian delivered some delightful balls in the first half, but none of his teammates were able to meet them. Both teams had their chances in the first half but neither was able to convert.
The deadlock was broken early into the second half, as a KBFC corner in the 48th minute spelled SCEB’s doom. Enes Sipovic rose high above his markers and nodded the ball past the outstretched hands of Sankar Roy.
SCEB came back hard at KBFC, but their attacks lacked precision. The best chance of the second half fell to Fran Sota, who found his marker on the wrong side inside the box. With the whole goal for him to aim at, the Spaniard unleashed a shot — but failed to keep it on target. KBFC then chose to remain calm on the ball and give SCEB no chances to change the course of the game.
SC East Bengal play Mumbai City FC next on February 22, and Mario Rivera will be hoping his boys put up a better show against the Mourtada Fall-led team.