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Dudu's Injury Time Header Keeps East Bengal Afloat In The Title Race

Sunday, 4 February 2018|Abhishek Mukherjee

East Bengal broke their four-game winless streak as they beat Indian Arrows by 1-0 courtesy of an injury-time header from Dudu Omagbemi(93') at the Barasat Stadium on Sunday(4th Feb). 

Needing a win to stay afloat in the I-League title race, East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil started with an attacking lineup with hardly any defensive cover in the midfield. Dudu Omagbemi, Kromah and Jobby Justin started upfront, while Cavin Lobo, Danmawia and Katsumi Yusa were vested with the responsibility of mantling the midfield.  

The young Arrows started with their default 4-2-3-1 formation with Aniket Jadhav spearheading the attack. 

After a drab initial quarter, the match sprung into life in the 25th minute when Dudu got a golden opportunity to break the deadlock, but his feeble header from Lobo's cross was easily collected by the Arrows' custodian Prabhsukhan Gill. 

Gill was once again the saviour of the Arrows when he acrobatically saved another header from Dudu in the 28th minute. 

The young guns were finding it difficult to deal with the pace and trickery of East Bengal's Katsumi Yusa as he bossed proceedings. Katsumi even found the back of the net in the 32nd minute, but it was disallowed for being offside. 

A minute later East Bengal got the best chance of the first half but luck simply wasn't on the side of the Red and Gold brigade. Lobo played an inch-perfect through ball to Dudu, whose shot on the turn ricocheted off the inside of the bar before being cleared by Jitendra Singh. 

Hence, with 66% ball possession in the first half, the home side failed to break the deadlock. 

The second half started in the same tempo as the first one. 

East Bengal threatened to draw first blood but lacked the finishing touch. Meanwhile, Gill continued his good run of form between the sticks as he acrobatically denied Katsumi in the 60th minute. 

Jobby Justin missed another golden chance in the 73rd minute when he failed to direct his free header goalwards. 

Arrows, meanwhile, defended their fort valiantly. They got a brilliant chance to put the game to bed in the dying embers of the match when substitute Suresh Singh's low cross found an unmarked Abhijit Sarkar in the far post, but Sarkar failed to steer the ball in the back of the net. 

Just when it seemed the match was destined for a stalemate, it was time for some late drama in the 93rd minute. Rafique's lobbed ball found Dudu in the edge of the box, who rose up to head the ball goalwards. Arrows' custodian Gill, who was a few yards out of his line, was beaten by the flight of the ball as it landed in the top corner- resulting in heartbreak for the Arrows. 

With the help of this win, East Bengal leapfrogged arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, to climb to the third spot in the league standings with 23 points from 13 games- 4 points behind league leaders NEROCA FC. 

East Bengal will next lock horns in a high stakes encounter versus Minerva Punjab FC away from home while Arrows will take on Churchill Brothers on 10th February.