East Bengal and Jamshedpur share points in a gritty draw

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SC East Bengal opened the scoring through Franjo Prce

In the third match of the 2021-22 Indian Super League season, East Bengal and Jamshedpur played out a gritty 1-1 draw. Both sides scored in the first half and canceled each other out for the majority of the game playing out the first draw of the eighth ISL season.

The new manager of the Red and Golds Jose Manuel Diaz fielded a pragmatic XI with both Tomislav Mrcela and Franjo Prce playing in the heart of the defense with Serbian forward Antonio Perosevic partnering Nigerian target man Daniel Chima Chukwu in the attack.

Similarly, Jamshedpur manager Owen Coyle also went with a more balanced lineup opting for a cautious setup with Peter Hartley partnering Eli Sabia in defense. The Red Miners initially played in a 4-3-3 formation with Nerjius Valskis and Alex Lima completing the quartet of overseas players. The system was altered in the second half with the injection of youth and pace in Komal Thatal and Ishan Pandita.

The game’s first major chance fell to the Red and Golds as a cross from Antonio Perosevic found Lalrinliana Hnamte in space but his shot lacked the power to beat TP Rehenesh.

Jamshedpur soon came up with the perfect response as a shot on goal from Nerijus Valskis was brilliantly blocked by Mohammed Rafique. The ball grazing off Rafique’s arm led to penalty calls but referee Crystal John was unmoved.

In the 17th minute, East Bengal eventually took the lead as a Bikash Jairu corner was parried away by Rehenesh, not to safety, but to the lurking Persovevic. The Serbian brought it back to Hnamte, who slotted it back to the penalty area and Prce came up with a great acrobatic kick finding the back of the net via a deflection. The goal might have been scrappy, but Diaz’s men showed great grit and determination to take the lead from a penalty box melee.

Jamshedpur tried their best to come up with a reply instantly and Valskis came close to scoring at the half-hour mark when his shot was just a whisker away from the post. 

Coyle’s bows finally found their equalizer when a corner from Alex Lima found Valskis in the penalty area. His header was misdirected, but fortunately for Jamshedpur, it fell to Peter Hartley, who made no mistake in slotting it past Arindam Bhattacharya. Questions will be raised about Mohammed Rafique’s defending, as he was largely at fault for allowing Hartley to sneak in behind him.

The second half saw Coyle introduce new signings Pandita and Thatal and the attacking duo provided Valskis with commendable support upfront. Apart from all the Jamshedpur’s attacks, there were moments of magic from East Bengal’s main man Antonio Perosevic. The Croatian forward showed great skills to beat defenders at will, and on any other day where his luck was slightly better, he would have had a goal or two to his name. 

The second half was not as frantic as the first with both teams looking unwilling to go gung-ho and risk a point. Although Jamshedpur finished strongly with a flurry of attacks, they lacked that cutting edge in the final third. 

The game ended with a fantastic chance for Alex Lima from a corner as the Brazilian midfielder was totally unmarked in the penalty area but his header was wayward and off-target.

East Bengal will now have to pull up their socks as they will go up against arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan in their next clash. On the other hand, Coyle’s Jamshedpur will face Juan Ferrando’s Goa in their next fixture on Friday.