Defending champions East Bengal utilised the space provided by rival defenders to beat Churchill Brothers 2-0 and scored their first win in the ninth National Football League, at Margao on Sunday.
The win took East Bengal to five points from three matches. While Churchill, who suffered their second defeat, now have one point from three matches.
Churchill controlled the match throughout and had more of the ball possession and scoring chances but their tale of missed chances continued as their strikers failed to capitalise on scoring opportunities.
The hosts also failed to make use of the one-man advantage they had for more than 50 minutes due to lack of proper planning.
The defending champions lost Alvito D'Cunha eight minutes from the breather after he handled the ball near their penalty box and was shown the yellow card.
Since this was the second yellow card for the midfielder in the match, East Bengal had to play the remaining match with 10 players.
Churchill coach Shabbir Ali made a few substitutions bringing in strikers I M Vijayan and Mohammed Najeeb but the East Bengal defence stood the test.
Churchill started in right earnest and had a glorious chance to surge ahead but Yusif Yakubu failed to get past goalkeeper Rajat Dastidar in the 5th minute.
Churchill, who pushed more men in the attack allowed space in the defence and East Bengal punished them as Climax Lawrence, who was adjudged the man of the match, slipped a through pass to Alvito D'Cunha on the left who beat a rival defender and showed deft placement to find the far corner of the net.
Bhaichung Bhutia, who was well marked by Churchill defenders, had a chance on either side of the half time but saw his first attempt hit the post in the dying minutes.
The striker, meanwhile, collided with goalkeeper Mark Mascarenhas and the Churchill custodian, who was hurt on his head, had to be rushed to the hospital for medical attention.
East Bengal who looked dangerous in the counter attack had two chances but substitute goalkeeper Vinay Singh did a good job to foil Bhutia from scoring.