SC East Bengal get reality check ahead of 'derby' as Hyderabad run away with 4-0 win

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SC East Bengal get reality check ahead of 'derby' as Hyderabad run away with 4-0 win
© Provided by The Times of India

Having ended their 11-match winless streak five days, SC East Bengal’s promise of a change in fortunes evaporated in spectacular manner when Hyderabad FC rode Bartholomew Ogbeche’s hat-trick to blow away Mario Rivera’s ‘hosts’ 4-0 on Monday.

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Wearing black armbands and observing a minute’s silence before the kick-off in the memory of Subhas Bhowmick, East Bengal came up with a forgettable performance at the Tilak Maidan to remember the former India player and celebrated coach, who passed away on Saturday.

It all started with goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya conceding a soft goal and the imperious Ogbeche ripped the red-and-gold brigade apart with his predatory skills, completing his hat-trick with goals in 21, 44 and 74 minutes. Aniket Jadhav scored the other goal on the cusp of half-time as SCEB conceded three or more goals for the fourth time this season.

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Hyderabad, on the other hand, were so clinical and in such a cruise control that they could have embellished the margin of victory with more goals and spared the rivals of a bigger humiliation. And East Bengal’s woes were complete when debutant Marcelo Ribeira, introduced on the hour mark, earned a questionable penalty but HFC goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani had no difficulty in saving Franjo Prce’s poorly-taken spot-kick.

A day after ATK Mohun Bagan were held by Odisha FC in a 0-0 draw, SC East Bengal’s preparation for the upcoming ‘Kolkata derby’ in Goa received a more rude reality check.

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During Renedy Singh’s interim charge, SC East Bengal went about stemming the rot not by being too ambitious in attack but trying to tick all the rear-guard boxes. Even in the match against FC Goa, which marked Rivera’s debut in ISL and East Bengal’s first win in 15 matches across two editions of ISL, they stayed true to that motto of being essentially a defensive side relying on counter-attacks.

However, here for a change, Rivera decided to change that pattern, trying to be ambitious early on but the move backfired.

Hyderabad stepped on the gas right from the beginning, duly breached the East Bengal citadel in the 21st minute. This time, Sauvik Chakraborty whipped in a corner and Ogbeche rose above the rest to come up with a header and a confused-looking Arindam saw the ball hit his chest and go in.

SC East Bengal eventually woke up from their slumber and the game produced a breathtaking moment of end-to-end dynamism in the 40th minute when Kattimani effected a stunning save denying Haokip off a Mohammad Rafique’s free-kick and Aniket missed a sitter from the very counter-attack.

However, East Bengal’s hopes for a turnaround vanished in no time as their defensive organization, which showed signs of promise in the past few matches, suddenly crumbled like a house of cards.

A normally confident Adil found his attempted clearance ricochet off Ogbeche and the Nigerian quickly pounced on it, racing towards the unprotected box, rounded a hapless Arindam and scooped up his second goal of the night.

Hyderabad then doused the opponents’ flickering hopes for a fightback when Aniket provided a perfect finish to another counter-attack.

The match as a contest was over in the first half and the tournament’s leading scorer Ogbeche had enough time after the break to complete his hat-trick with another clinical finish and for his goal No. 12 of the season.

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