A spectacular strike by Baichung Bhutia propelled three-time winners East Bengal to a 1-0 victory over Mohammedan Sporting in their opening match, in the ONGC Cup National Football League in Kolkata on Tuesday.
The Sikkimese icon showed flashes of his vintage self before hammering home the match-winner in the 77th minute of the sparsely attended encounter at the Salt Lake stadium.
Medio Alvito D'Cunha did the spadework for the goal, feeding Shylo Malswamtluanga midway into the rival half before the latter sent a cross to the left for Bhutia.
Sporting defender Wazid Ali tried to intercept the ball, but his header went the wrong way and Bhutia pounced on the ball, foxed a defender and finished off with a rasping left-footer past substitute goalkeeper Gopal Das.
The rest of the 90-minute match saw very ordinary fare dished out by the two Kolkata sides.
The league was earlier inaugurated by West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee.