Cash-strapped United SC began their title defence with a win over Busan SunMoon FC, while East Bengal registered their first victory to remain afloat in the 118th IFA Shield here on Saturday.
In the first match of the day, East Bengal struck through substitute Seminlen Doungel, who is popularly known as Len and Edeh Chidi in the last 11 minutes to blank Geylang FC of Singapore 2-0 and jump to the lead in group I with four points from two outings.
In the second group I fixture, Ranty Martins' 85th minute strike broke a 1-1 deadlock and handed the defending champions a 2-1 win over Busan SunMoon FC as the purple brigade remained second with three points from one match.
Having arrived after a 16-hour journey via Bangkok after visa-related issues, the S-League side Geylang appeared fatigued though East Bengal failed to surge ahead in a barren first-half.
Substitute Len, took East Bengal ahead in the 79th minute while Chidi found the target in the 90th minute to complete the tally.
Len had come in place of veteran Shylo Malswamtluanga in the 65th minute.
East Bengal, who drew against SunMoon FC in their first outing, took their tally to four points from two matches to remain in line for a last four berth.
Showing a stiff competition, United SC and SunMoon FC struck one each in four minutes before the break for a 1-1 stalemate.
Mohammad Rafique fired in the lead in the 40th minute before Yeon Je Un equalised for the South Korean side.
Just when it looked to be meandering for a draw, Martins utilised an Eric Brown centre to maximum effect.