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Bhutia nets winner for East Bengal

Source: PTI
February 12, 2005 17:23 IST
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Baichung Bhutia struck a spectacular goal as East Bengal pipped Salgaocar Sports Club 1-0 to register their fifth consecutive victory and consolidate their position at the top of the table in the ninth National Football League at Kolkata on Saturday.

Bhutia, who was bottled up by the Salgaocar defenders in the first half, stamped his class nine minutes from close.

He followed a floater essayed from the right by substitute Shylo Malswam Tulunga, and threw himself in the air to fire a snap back volley which entered the goal leaving the entire rival defence including goalkeeper Juje Siddi spellbound.

The ball rocketed in between two stunned Salgaocar defenders as the handful of spectators at the giant Salt Lake stadium broke into thunderous applause.

East Bengal, who faced a stiff competition from their rivals, particularly in the first half, have now boosted their tally to 17 points from seven outings. Salgaocar remained on seven points after playing the same number of matches.

Salgaocar played with short passes and built up fast moves but their efforts seemed to fizzle out as the match progressed in the second half.

East Bengal could hardly do anything before the breather as Bhutia was tightly marked and new Brazilian recruit Juliano Martins put up an inept display.

Medio Alvito De Cunha, operating from the left, worked hard trying to create positive moves, but his efforts did not bear fruit due to lack of support from the forwards.

The Salgaocar rearguard, led by John Dias, also put up a good show thwarting East Bengal forays time and again.

East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick fielded Jeremiah in the starting line up, but the move did not pay off, as the foreigner could not do anything worthwhile and had to make way for Climax Lawrence towards the middle of the first session.

Lawrence's inclusion added some teeth to the East Bengal raids, and in the 22nd minute the red and gold brigade came close to scoring following a sudden counter attack.

Fed by Juliano, Bhutia set up Lawrence, but the latter's shot on the run was off-target.

In contrast, the Salgaocar attacks were faster and looked more planned. They got a chance as early as the fifth minute when the dangerous Felix Ibrebru launched on a long run from the midfield and essayed a through to Jerose Oliviera, whose light tap harmlessly went out off an East Bengal defender.

Six minutes later, Felix's header following a corner went straight to East Bengal custodian Rajat Ghosh Dastidar, who again stole the show in the 13th minute by putting out a lovely bicycle kick taken by Samson Singh.

East Bengal next play Tollygunge Agragami on February 15, while Salgaocar will take on Dempo on February 17.

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