East Bengal was held to a goalless draw by Sporting at Barasat on Friday. Both teams failed to break the dead lock as either side lacked the cutting edge to beat the defense at the other end. Sporting were reduced to 10 men in the 59th minute when Mehrajuddin Wadoo was sent off for his second bookable offence while East Bengal made things even in the 86th minute when Narayan Das picked up his second yellow to receive his marching orders.
Sporting received a major setback as their skipper Odafa Okolie who was back from an injury had to be substituted in the 13th minute. Victorino Fernandes who came in for the skipper got things going right away. The first half saw Sporting keep most of the ball between their midfield as Mahmoud Al Amnah, Rowllin Borges and Victorino controlled the mid-field well. There was hardly any notable action in the first half barring a Ranti Martins attempted back heel which went way off target and Nicholas Fernandes volley off a Mahmoud cross which went inches past the KEB nets at the other end. The first half ended with 0 – 0 on the score board.
The second half once again saw the visitors take things into their control right from the kick-off. Victorino made some good runs into the KEB box but was clearly out of ideas once he faced the defense. Mahmoud tried to create something here but was lacking support from his fellow mates. In the 59th minute Wadoo got booked for his second offense hence made the long walk back into the tunnels leaving Sporting with 10 men against a hungry KEB side. The Red and Gold brigade looked to be all over the place not finding the accurate cross into the box. However it was the formidable performance of Loveday Enyinnaya and Subhasish Bose which really kept the likes of Dong and Ranti relatively quiet. Another Flaming Oranje who put out a brave performance was non other than Arindam Bhattacharya who pulled out a few amazing saves in the second half rightfully winning him Hero of the Match award.
However inspite of being a man down the visitors did create some good moves in the KEB box testing their defenders at least thrice in the gap of 10 minutes. Towards the end East Bengal players started losing their calm which saw Narayan Das pick up his second yellow with a rather silly tackle to get his marching orders. The dying seconds of this match saw East Bengal trying to salvage something from here but the Sporting defense stood tall and kept their nerves to avoid any real danger.
With this draw both teams stay put on their position, East Bengal on third with 25 points while Sporting stay 4th with 19 points. This draw also means that East Bengal’s mathematical possibility to pull out a miracle and win the title is all but over.