Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], October 1 (ANI): Twin strikes by Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva secured East Bengal FC their opening win of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 campaign as they defeated Hyderabad FC by 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.
Goals by both teams in the opening 10 minutes set the tone for a competitive contest standing true to the impressive attacking flair and defensive resilience of the two units in question.
Hyderabad FC began building up an offensive move from the right flank and their Australian attacker Joe Knowles received a cross with perfection at the edge of the box on the left side.
He displayed commendable footwork to get past three defenders before cutting back and taking a shot at goal. He could not get enough power behind the same but the team’s attacking midfielder Hitesh Sharma was at the appropriate spot to redirect the ball and tap it into the back of the net to hand the team the crucial lead in the proceedings.
The Red and Gold Brigade equalised within a couple of minutes and former Hyderabad FC star Borja Herrera was at the centre of the move that brought about that goal.
Carles Cuadrat’s side went direct as Herrera received a long ball and moved to the left in order to shoot at goal. Silva was at the right spot to pounce upon the loose ball and put it into the back of the net to bring the match on level terms.
Cuadrat’s influence in East Bengal FC is reflected in their arguably increased threat from set-pieces too. They took a quick corner in the 36th minute that possibly took the Hyderabad FC defence aback.
As expected, the ball was directed to Silva again who jumped the highest but his header ended slightly above the crossbar, leaving the home side tantalisingly close to getting a lead in the proceedings.
The second half was a similarly equal affair as both teams struggled at times to get one foot ahead of the other. They imbibed different strategies but, Hyderabad head coach Conor Nestor tapped upon every resource available on the bench to get his team’s second goal of the night.
Aaren D’Silva, Anuj Kumar, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, and Oswaldo Alanis were called on as substitutes to somehow bag the winner whilst Cuadrat placed trust on his starting XI and delayed his substitutions significantly.
However, it was Silva who made the difference again by pulling off a breathtaking free-kick from a promising position at the brink of injury time. Stepping up to take the set-piece, the striker displayed impeccable technique to curl the ball into the top left corner and ensure that the home team bagged all three points from the game.
*Key Performer of the Match
Cleiton Silva (East Bengal FC)
The Brazilian’s sharpshooting abilities helped the team scrape a point from the encounter. He was a constant presence around the Hyderabad box and even participated in the build-up play by completing an impressive 20 of the 28 passes that he attempted. Silva intercepted once, cleared the ball twice, and won three fouls in addition to scoring the crucial goal in the 10th minute.
*What’s next for both teams?
East Bengal FC will take on Bengaluru FC in an away fixture for their next game in the ISL on October 4 whereas Hyderabad FC will square off against Jamshedpur FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on October 5.
East Bengal FC – 2 (Cleiton Silva 10′, 91′) Hyderabad FC – 1 (Jitesh Sharma 8′). (ANI)
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