Barasat: Willis Plaza became the hero of East Bengal overnight as he scored in the final minute to pip Churchill Brothers 3-2 in a thrilling I-League football fixture on Saturday.
The match saw many ups and downs and the 2012-13 I-League champions Churchill were on course to log their first points with goals from Nigerian Peter Omoduemuke (16th) and Nicholas Fernandes (60th).
East Bengal scored their first goal through Laldanmawia Ralte in the 18th minute and under-fire Trinidadian forward Plaza then gave a fitting reply to his critics with two goals (45+2 and 90+7) to hand the Goans their fourth defeat on the trot.
It was East Bengal's second win of the season after their 5-1 rout of Shillong Lajong as the red-and-gold brigade jumped to the third place in the standings with seven points.
The Goans drew the first blood against the run of play when Omoduemuke slotted it home for the Red Machines from an Israil Gurung assist from the left-flank.
But their joy was shortlived as East Bengal, cheered on by a boisterous home crowd, brought the equaliser with Plaza setting it up for Ralte from outside the box.
Plaza, who had come in the line of fire for his profligacy especially in their derby defeat, showed his worth as he first helped East Bengal snatch the lead in the first-half stoppage time (45+2).
It was captain Katsumi Yusa who set it up with a his cross from the left side of the box and Plaza timed his jump to perfection to fire in the lead.
Churchill, however, did not give up and a superb finish from Nicholas saw them bring the equaliser as tense moments began to grip the red and gold supporters.
The Goans kept East Bengal on their toes and almost went ahead again in the 84th minute when Nicholas fired in a long- range left-footed shot but he shot directly to K Mirshad.
Mirshad did well to stand tall in the pressure situation as Churchill kept on attacking with Nicholas.
Plaza also missed a flurry of chances in the stoppage time and just when it seemed they were all set to drop points like Mohun Bagan, the Trinidadian forward found himself unmarked and got his header from a Yusa corner for a perfect finish.
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Updated Date: Dec 16, 2017 21:06:15 IST