The Snow Leopards dropping points means that Mohun Bagan can clinch the title as early as Tuesday
A nine-man Real Kashmir went down by a solitary goal against a 10-man East Bengal, courtesy of an injury-time penalty converted by Victor Perez (90+5′) in an I-League encounter at the TRC Turf Ground in Srinagar, Kashmir, on Monday.
The hosts played most of the match with 10 men after Danish Bhat was sent off in the 38th minute while Kallum Higginbotham (90+8′) received the marching orders late in injury time along with Red and Golds’ substitute Edmund Lalrindika for an off-the-ball altercation.
The coach of the home side, David Robertson continued with the same 11 that defeated NEROCA FC 1-0 last Wednesday. On the other hand, Mario Rivera made a few alterations from the 1-1 draw against Gokulam Kerala as Johnny Acosta, Asheer Akhtar and Bidyashasar Singh made their way in place of Gurjinder Singh, Mehtab Singh and Marc Jimenez.
Akhtar did well to block Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte’s first time left-footed half-volley that was bound for goal after East Bengal goalkeeper Mirshad Michu had already committed himself to punch out a floater by Aaron Katebe in the eighth minute.
Katebe and co. were kept busy in their own half against numerous dangerous deliveries from the right flank, mostly whipped in by Juan Mera, although the Kolkatan outfit weren’t able to create a notable opening for themselves despite gaining the advantage of an extra man.
Bhat got himself booked for simulation in the opponent’s box, which was his second yellow in the 38th minute, but the hosts still survived the half without conceding. In fact, Robin Singh should have at least hit the target as he miscued a Acosta clearance off Kallum Higginbotham’s free-kick in added time.
East Bengal registered their first shot on target in the 54th minute through Jamie Santos’ free-kick that was punched out by rival custodian Phurba Lachenpa, a little before Real Kashmir’s Bazie Armand was lucky to get away with a yellow after a high foot against Perez.
Bidyashagar’s shot swayed wide of the right post in the 66th minute before Chesterpoul Lyndoh had the opportunity to slot in the ball from substitute Gnohore Krizo’s lob but was only able to find Michu at his near post in the 83rd minute.
Mason Robertson’s decision of going under the wall from his free-kick could have gone anywhere after picking a deflection but went wide, a minute before East Bengal substitute Lalrindika Ralte hit an attempt straight at Lachenpa in the final minute of regulation time.
Only after a lengthy discussion with his assistant did the referee award a penalty to the visitors after Santos went down against a challenge of Loveday Enyinnaya. Perez stepped up to send Lachenpa the wrong side and send East Bengal, now with 23 points from 16 games, second but tied on points with Punjab FC, while Real Kashmir remain fourth with as many points (22 points) as TRAU FC and Gokulam Kerala.