East Bengal paid the price of their poor defence as they went down 1-2 to Balestier Khalsa FC to slip to the bottom of group standings in the AFC Cup football tournament at the Jalan Besar Stadium today.
The depleted East Bengal, who are playing without their four regular players, conceded two early goals with Xu Weihua (6th) and Miroslav Kristic (19th) giving the home side a 2-0 lead at halftime in the Group F match.
It was difficult for the red-and-gold side to come back from there as Dudu Omagbemi only managed to halve the deficit with his left-footed volley from a Mohammad Rafique cross in the 82nd minute.
Balestier Khalsa FC, the AFC Cup debutants, held on to their lead to register their maiden win in the competition as they jumped to third position in the group with three points from three outings.
Having suffered a second successive away defeat, East Bengal, on the other hand, slipped to the bottom of the four-team table with one point from three matches.
East Bengal will next host the Singaporean outfit in their next outing on April 14.
Playing without four regulars in Arnab Mondal, Saumik Dey, Lalrindika Ralte and Cavin Lobo, who are doing national duty, East Bengal were caught unawares as Croatia’s Kristic almost handed the lead but his third minute attempt sailed over the bar.
But the home outfit soon made amends, seeing East Bengal goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal out of place and giving a mispass as Jonathan drilled it past the East Bengal defence from the edge of the box.
East Bengal defence failed to learn from the mistake as Balestier Khalsa doubled the lead with Kristic toying the red and gold’s backline.
The Croatian forward used the gap between Gurwinder Singh and Raju Gaikwad before outpacing the latter to slot the ball home from the far corner.
The I-League runners-up were earlier thrashed 4-1 by Johor Darul Ta’Zim to in their opening match this season while in the last match they held last year’s semifinalists Kitchee FC of Hong Kong 1-1.
Balestier Khalsa FC, the Singapore Cup winners, lost 0-3 to Kitchee in their opening match, while in round two they went down 0-1 to Johor Darul Ta’zim at home in their debut AFC Cup appearance.