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Cleiton Silva’s brace helps East Bengal to ISL season’s first win | Football News

East Bengal and Hyderabad FC traded goals inside 90 seconds of each other and within the first 10 minutes. Having whetted the appetite on a wet evening at Salt Lake stadium, the teams, under new coaches and with new players, showed they didn’t have the ingredients for another till Cleiton Silva produced a moment of magic when the clock showed 90+4.

Cleiton Silva (R) of East Bengal FC celebrates after scoring a goal during the ISL 2023-24 match against Hyderabad FC(PTI)
Cleiton Silva (R) of East Bengal FC celebrates after scoring a goal during the ISL 2023-24 match against Hyderabad FC(PTI)

The 2-1 result fetched East Bengal their first win of the season and four points from two games is the best they have managed in four seasons of the Indian Super League (ISL). It was also their first win against Hyderabad FC in ISL.

Hitesh Sharma scored in the eighth minute and Silva equalised in the 10th. The next time a goal really came under pressure was in the 84th minute when Joseph Knowles tested Prabhsukhan Gill from range needing the East Bengal goalie to fly to his right and make a two-handed save. A match where little had happened in either penalty box then suddenly had Joao Siverio missing twice from close and Aaren d’Silva being denied by Gill meaning Silva’s individual effort would give Hyderabad the blues.

After Sahil Tavora conceded a free-kick for a foul on Saul Crespo, Silva lined up a free-kick which he thundered over the wall, hit the underside of the horizontal and went in.

“We were a little bit nervous and I was telling players to stay calm,” said East Bengal coach Carles Cuadrat after the match. “But in eight official games this season, we have lost one, a close 0-1 in the Durand Cup final.” Thangboi Sinbto, the Hyderabad FC coach, said the team was hit by the unexpected substitution of goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani but praised the players’ effort.

First start of the season and Silva began from where he had left off with 12 ISL goals in 2022-23. The Brazilian opened his account for 2023-24 with a cleverly dinked first-timer after Nim Dorjee Tamang had clattered into Borja Herrera. Silva’s smart and prompt finish ensured that referee Ashwin – he goes by one name – wouldn’t have to decide on whether it was a penalty.

If the equaliser was started by a long ball from Nishu Kumar which Joao Victor, a midfielder slotted into the heart of the defence by Hyderabad FC who were playing their first match of the season on Saturday, couldn’t stop, the evening’s first goal too stemmed from poor defending. Felipe, the Brazilian in the away ranks, rolled a ball across East Bengal’s goal that was out of reach of Petteri Pennanen, one of the few from Finland in this 10-year-old league, but kept alive by Knowles.

With three East Bengal players hesitating to challenge the Australian because he was in the 18-yard box, Knowles threaded a pass that found Sharma who had made a smart run catching central defender Harmanjot Khabra off guard. It was all the former ATK midfielder needed to get his team of three seasons on the scoreboard.

East Bengal had the better of the half-chances in the first half both from Nishu Kumar and Mahesh Naorem combining on the left. Silva headed over the first, a corner-kick taken short, and it needed a brave dive from Hyderabad FC goalkeeper Kattimani to deny him a second. Silva clattered into the goalkeeper who, after being treated from the 40th to 45th minutes, was deemed unfit continue and replaced by Anuj Kumar.

The long treatment led to seven minutes of additional time during which both teams tried interesting free-kick routines. Emblematic of teams struggling for rhythm and cohesion, they didn’t work.

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