Kolkata giants East Bengal went down to Chittagong Abahani in the title clash of the Sheikh Kamal Cup at the M.A. Aziz Stadium in Chittagong, Bangladesh, on Friday. The final scoreline read 1-3 in favour of the Bangladeshi club. (Read more football stories here)
East Bengal, which has a reputation of doing well against foreign clubs, fielded a young side against Abahani as most of their players are busy playing in the Indian Super League.
Despite the pressure of playing in foreign conditions, the youngsters gave the Biswajit Bhattacharya-coached club a ray hope of repeating their 2003 feat of winning the ASEAN Cup as they took the lead in the 11th minute. Avinab's powerful shot beat Abahani goalkeeper as East Benagl went ahead.
That goal energised the East Bengal footballers as they kept on raiding the rival box but another goal was no where to be. They came really close in the 27th minute as Mohammed Rafique's header off Avinab's corner was thwarted by a goalline save.
Under pressure from East Bengal, Abahani responded in style as they came close to equalising in the 32nd minute but Mithun's shot went wide. The home club, egged on by a 40000-strong crowd, finally got the equaliser in the injury-time of the first half.
Abahani's Nigerian striker Eleta Kinglsey scored from a brilliant header off Mithun's cross to restore parity. The goal just ahead of the breather was the turning point as Abahani were changed side in the second.
They attacked much more in the second half as East Bengal players could not keep up with the pace. The home team finally got the result of their hard work in the 53rd minute as Kingsley scored his second goal of the match, as he beat Bello Razzaq to give Abahani 2-1 lead.
Three minutes later Abahani took total control of the match as Kingsley headed the club's third goal.
Despite trailing 1-3, East Bengal had their chances but Ranti Martins and Prohlad Roy missed from close ranges in the 79 and 80th minute respectively. That was the last time that East Bengal came close to reducing the gap but were not successful as Abahani clinched the match and the title.