A brace by Baichung Bhutia in the second half enabled defending champions East Bengal to overcome a determined State Bank of Travancore team 4-2 in the National Football League match for the ONGC Cup in Kozhikode on Tuesday.
The Bengal giants were leading 2-1 at half-time.
It was mid-fielder Climax Lawrence who seized the initiative for the Kolkata team by netting the first goal eleven minute into the game after successfully tracking a smooth pass from his captain Chandan Das.
However, the bankmen, engaging in an attacking game from the beginning, soon brought in the equaliser when mid-fielder N P Pradeep converted a penalty.
But Lawrence, later named the man-of-the-match, netted his second goal five minutes before the close of first half by converting a free kick from his captain.
Cheered by a sell-out crowd of over 30,000, the home team did well to level the score 2-all after SBT captain Lanel Thomas made a clean finish off a Abdul Hakkim's pass 30 minutes into the second half.
With the match seeming to be interestingly poised, Bhutia flashed on the scene twice to seal the issue in his team's favour.
After connecting a Chandan Das' rebound to take his team 3-2 up with only 15 minutes to go for the final whistle, the Indian captain once again found the net by smashing a Das header minutes before the close.
East Bengal now have 11 points from five matches, while SBT have four points from as many matches.