Calcutta/Pune: Edeh Chidi scored a brace as Kingfisher East Bengal overcame Pune FC 2-1 on Friday's I-League tie at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune.
With both teams locked 1-1, referee C. Srikirishna awarded East Bengal with a penalty, off which, Chidi scored the winner in the 75 th minute. Pune FC players protested against the spot-kick, but the referee refused to budge.
However, as far as East Bengal are concerned, they will take whatever comes their way under the present circumstances.
Full points from this game enabled East Bengal reduce the margin with table-toppers Churchill Brothers to two points, cementing their place in the second place with 36 points. Pune FC remain fourth with 30 points.
East Bengal went on to take the lead as early as in the sixth minute. Harmanjot Singh Khabra cross from the right-flank and Chidi made no mistake to shoot past Pune FC custodian Abhra Mondal.
For Pune FC, much was expected from striker James Moga. But lack of support from strike partner Subhash Singh made the task a lot tougher for Moga.
Yet, the Sudanese striker tried single-handedly to make inroads in the East Bengal defence. On one occasion, he had caught the rival defence off-guard with a sprint down the left-flank in the 11 th minute. But his cross was just too far for Izumi Arata to make good use of.
Two minutes later, Moga's header was on target, but couldn't beat goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal. Moga's persistence paid off soon after as Arata equalised with a left-footer, off his wonderful aerial set-up.
Pune FC gradually looked to gain the upper hand as the game progressed. However, East Bengal started operating more from the flanks, which allowed them to put some pressure back on the opposition.
The defining moment arrived in the 72 nd minute when Subhash Singh tripped Chidi inside the box, with referee Srikrishna quickly pointing to the dreaded spot.
A heated argument between Pune FC players and the referee followed, but that had no effect whatsoever on Chidi as he calmly slotted the ball in to win East Bengal the game.