Updated: Dec 27, 2020
Panaji, Dec 26: In what turned out to be a thrilling encounter between SC East Bengal and Chennaiyin FC at Tilak Maidan, Vasco on Boxing Day, SCEB midfielder Matti Steinmann netted a brace to ensure a 2-2 draw for his side after CFC went ahead twice, courtesy goals from Lallianzuala Chhangte and Rahim Ali.
With this result, the Red-and-Golds currently stand on three points from seven games (three draws and four losses) and move up to the 10th spot on the points table in Hero ISL 2020-21.
SCEB went into the contest with an unchanged XI from their previous game against Kerala Blasters FC that ended 1-1 at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim six days back.
Playing their third ‘home’ fixture this season, the Red-and-Golds began the game on a positive note, winning two corners in the first ten minutes.
However, they were dealt with their first blow in the 13th minute when Lallianzuala Chhangte received the ball from Jakub Sylvestr at the halfway mark and made a darting run to enter the SCEB box and score his side’s first goal of the night, against the run of play.
The Marina Machans continued to test the SCEB backline with Rafael Crivellaro, Chhangte and Sylvestr spearheading most of their attacks throughout the first half.
In the 30th minute, just before the first drinks break, Jacques Maghoma found himself with a chance to slot in the equaliser. He received a long ball inside the opposition box by controlling it with his chest, got into a one-v-one position with CFC goalkeeper Vishal Kaith, but the latter stepped out of his line to thwart the move despite briefly losing control of the ball after clashing with teammate Deepak Tangri.
Seven minutes later, Md Rafique broke the offside trap to get on the end of a chipped ball and enter a one-v-one position with Kaith, but Deepak Tangri tracked back in time and kept the ball away for a corner.
SCEB Head Coach Robbie Fowler made a couple of substitutions immediately after half-time as Jeje Lalpekhlua and Hero ISL debutant Rohen Singh replaced Sehnaj Singh and Surchandra Singh. The action intensified in this half with both teams looking to up the ante.
In the 58th minute, SCEB skipper Danny Fox met with a low cross sent by Bikash Jairu from the left flank into the opposition box, but was unable to fire it in as Enes Sipovic made a last-ditch tackle to send it out for a corner.
A minute later, the Red-and-Golds got their coveted equaliser from a set-piece as Bikash Jairu’s corner kick was nodded in by Matti Steinmann with a free header that beat Kaith at the near post. This was the German’s maiden Hero ISL goal.
However, CFC didn’t take too long to go ahead once again as Jakub Sylvestr received the ball from a counter attack and set it up for Rahim Ali at the edge of the box, who made no mistake to capitalise on the chance and net his side’s second goal of the night in the 64th minute.
The scoreline was yet again leveled in the 68th minute as another dead ball situation was converted by the ‘home’ side. Bikash Jairu’s corner kick found Danny Fox deep inside the opposition box, who tried to head the ball in, but was kept away by Kaith. However, Steinmann drove the ball home on the rebound to score his second goal of the night and restore parity for his side.
The Red-and-Golds played with renewed vigour following the equaliser and remained in hunt for their third goal, but the score remained 2-2 till the final whistle was blown despite them creating a couple of more chances.
Rana Gharami was brought on as a substitute for Rafique in the 88 minute to solidify the backline in the dying moments.
Reflecting on the game at the post-match Press conference, Robbie Fowler said, ‘In terms of the way the game went, it was important that we didn't lose and our lads showed a lot of fight because this was a game that we didn't deserve to lose. In the second half, we upped the tempo.’
Matti Steinmann was adjudged the Player of the Match for his two goals, two successful tackles and three blocks.
SC East Bengal play Odisha FC next, at Tilak Maidan on 3 January 2021.