Mahindra United put the brakes on title-holders East Bengal's winning run as the two sides finished 1-1 in a fast and lively ninth National Football League match at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata on Friday.
The local outfit struck early through Climax Lawrence, before Mahindra United squared the issue the issue through S Venkatesh, who scored five minutes from the breather.
East Bengal, who lost their first point after six back-to-back victories, now have 21 points from nine outings. The Mumbai-based Mahindra United are on 13 points from eight matches.
Wildly cheered by around 30,000 spectators, East Bengal went into the lead in the seventh minute, reaping the fruits of a sustained offensive on the rival deep defence.
The Kolkata outfit got back-to-back corners, and the fourth proved productive. Alvito D'Cunha let loose a swinging left-footer which was headed in by Climax, who got his sixth goal of the current league.
Mahindra, well-served by their formidable midfield, returned to the game with aplomb and restored parity in the 40th minute. Kulothungon launched on a long run and cut into the box almost unchallenged, as the East Bengal defenders mistakenly believed that he was off-side.
The Mahindra medio, who had moved close to rival custodian Rajat Ghosh Dastidar, utilised the opportunity to the hilt, and essayed a square pass to an unmarked Venkatesh, who slotted home.