Bambolim, December 23: SC East Bengal bagged their fourth point of this season’s Indian Super League (ISL) as they played out a 1-1 draw against in-form Hyderabad FC at the GMC Athletic Stadium. Both goals came in the first half, with Amir Dervisevic scoring from a free-kick and Bartholomew Ogbeche restoring parity with a header.
With the draw, Hyderabad FC’s unbeaten run since the opening day fixture continued as they climbed to second place on the ISL table on goal difference, while SC East Bengal remained in 11th position.
SC East Bengal started the game in a relatively slow manner, taking time to settle into the match. At the 20-minute mark, SCEB was awarded a free-kick on top of the box, as Lalrinliana Hnamte's speedy run was stopped outside the box by the Hyderabad FC defence. Dervisevic lined up with Md. Rafique to take the set-piece and sent a curling ball over the top of the three-man Hyderabad FC wall. Nizams goalkeeper Laximikanth Kattimani got a hand to the ball, but the pace and the swerve were too much for him to control and it deflected off his hand and went in.
Buoyed by the goal, the Red-and-Gold Brigade changed gear and went on the offensive. Perhaps the best chance of the match fell to SCEB striker Chima Chukwu, who got hold of a through ball with only Kattimani standing between him and the goal. However, the Nigerian squandered the golden chance, steering it wide of the goal.
Hyderabad FC soon got themselves back into the match, courtesy Bartholomew Ogbeche. The French forward, who is the highest goal scorer of the season so far, nodded a floating ball from Aniket Yadav past Arindam Bhattacharya to score his sixth goal of the season.
SC East Bengal tried hard to sneak themselves back into the lead once again, but Hyderabad FC rode on their luck as Md. Rafique’s thunderous volley rattled the post and ricocheted back.
In the second half, both teams toiled hard to end the deadlock, but were undone by some poor finishing. The miss by substitute Balwant Singh, who headed an unchallenged ball wide of the goalkeeper at the 80th minute, summed up the match.
SC East Bengal will take on Bengaluru FC next on 4th January at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim.