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 November 24, 2002 | 2130 IST

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East Bengal snatch full points from Mahindra United

Former champions East Bengal rode on an Alvito D'Cunha strike to prevail over a fighting Mahindra United in a fast-paced encounter of the seventh National Football League at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata on Sunday.

The formidable red and yellow brigade, who started off as tournament favourites, pressed the attack button from the very beginning, aiming to log full points in their second outing.

D'Cunha, fielded upfront alongside in-form striker Mike Okoro, gave the Kolkatans the lead in the 25th minute, when his powerful left footer from top of the box lodged into the net, past a diving Mahindra goalkeeper Firoze Sharif.

Desperate to restore parity, the visitors stepped up their attacks through Ivory Coast striker Mongba Aby Samson and R C Prakash, who were well served by James Singh and R P Singh from the wings.

Samson, whose header from a James Singh corner just missed the target in the early minutes, wasted an easy chance following a solo run by R P Singh down the left and a measured centre of R C Prakash in the 20th minute.

East Bengal, looking for an insurance goal, brought in youngster S Malsawntluanga to add fizz to its attack but were denied any further success by some good defending by the Mahindra defence.

As time ran out, Mahindra, pressing hard for at least a goal, came near scoring on a couple of occasions but East Bengal keeper Sandeep Nandy did well to keep their slate clean, foiling a Samson-Siddiqui move and a Debjit Ghosh header.

With this victory, East Bengal have six points from two matches while Mahindra, who were humiliated by Tollygunge Agragami in last encounter, have three points from as many outings.

Complete Coverage: 7th National Football League 2002-03