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 February 28, 2002 | 1815 IST

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East Bengal stun league
leaders Mahindra United

Defending champions East Bengal continued their resurgence by getting the better of leaders Mahindra United 2-1 in an absorbing but temper-scarred National Football League tussle in Kolkata on Thursday.

After sliding to a lowly eighth spot in the league table with four consecutive defeats, the glamour side have now won three matches on the trot to signal a strong comeback in the high-profile tournament.

Following a barren first half, which saw East Bengal dominate but muff up several rosy chances, the match came alive after the breather, when all the three goals were scored within a space of eight minutes.

Mahindra, pushed onto the defensive by relentless East Bengal raids, went ahead against the run of play in the 66th minute through S Venkatesh, but their joy was shortlived as the home side drew parity barely two minutes later.

The modest crowd at the Salt Lake stadium breathed a sigh of relief as substitue Dipendu Biswas headed into goal following a free-kick for the equaliser, before Ghanaian Suley Musah capped a sparkling performance by netting the winner with a powerpacked 74th minute grounder.

The match was, however, marred by a display of frayed tempers by players of both sides, making it increasing- ly difficult for Tamil Nadu referee Pradeep Kumar to keep the situation under control.

Mahindra were reduced to ten men for the last ten minutes after their reliable wing back Anthony Pereira was given marching orders for rough play.

With today's win, East Bengal have 20 points while Mahindra stay on 23. Both have played 13 matches.

National Football League - the complete coverage