Kolkata: Edeh Chidi's 84th minute strike helped East Bengal pip Mohammedan Sporting 2-1 as they returned from a five-match winless run with a victory in an I-League match at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Tuesday.
James Moga gave East Bengal an 18th minute lead when Mehrajuddin Wadoo's poor clearance allowed the South Sudanese forward seize the opportunity.
Mohammedan Sporting brought on the equaliser in the 34th minute when Taro Hasegawa played a perfect diagonal cross from his own half.
Both teams had chances to go ahead in the 80th minute. Mohammedan's Penn, who showed good feet down the left before his cross in the box, was headed out by Raju Gaikwad to a lurking Manish Maithani outside the box, only to shoot wayward.
East Bengal had two back-to-back chances with Chidi (in pic) rolling wide of the post before Naoba Singh struck the post after deceiving an outstretched Luis Barreto under the bar.
But the red and gold brigade had the last laugh when Chidi scored from a Shylo Malswamtulunga lofted ball.
This was East Bengal's first win in the new year with their last win coming against Bengaluru FC on December 15.
Due to their games in hand, East Bengal still have a realistic chance of challenging for the title, but they are on a five-match winless streak in all competitions and have picked up just two points from their three fixtures after the I-League break.