The former East Bengal man made sure of the three points to take the Goans atop the standings
Bernardo Tavares made three changes from the 2-1 defeat the hosts suffered at the hands of Indian Arrows in the 2019 year-end. Md. Jafar Mondal replaced James Kithan in goal. Glan Martins and Richard Costa were the other changes with Israil Gurung and Lalengzama Vangchhia moved to the bench.
For the visitors, Alejandro Menendez chose to start with Abhijit Sarkar, Jaime Santos, Lalrindika Ralte and Mehtab Singh in place of Asheer Akhtar, Pintu Mahata, Ronaldo Oliveira and Samad Ali Mallick.
Lalkhawpuimawia was closed down early on by the East Bengal defense while Marcos Espada, Sarkar and Santos didn’t ask Mondal the difficult questions with their attempts inside the opening 20 minutes as the visitors took their time to settle in the game after being out of action for three weeks following their 2-1 win over TRAU FC.
Juan Mera was through on goal in the 24th minute but was unfortunate to see his left-footer scrape off the upright much to the relief of Churchill Brothers.
Closing in to the half-hour mark it should have been East Bengal leading by a goal as Mehtab headed in a curling flagkick by Ralte but for the referee’s whistle going against the scoring side for a foul.
Yet, without much involvement in attack, Churchill could have gone into the break with a 1-0 lead if not for Plaza failing to beat Lalthuammawia Ralte in the East Bengal goal after being found in the box by Kalif Alhassan.
Come the second half, Plaza did well to evade his marker with a skillful turn around the 60th minute but his shot came off defender Kamalpreet Singh. The Trinidadian was thereon magnificently denied by rival goalkeeper Ralte after Radanfah Abu Bakr put Jovel Martins’ throw-in in the former’s path.
East Bengal skipper Ralte shot wide in the 69th minute from inside the box after Santos’ cross from the right was headed down by Espada.
Mondal had to be at hand to thwart away a piledriver by Marti Crepi from distance in the 84th minute while Espada shot wide another attempt soon after.
It was left up to Plaza to plug in the winner with a header at Ralte’s near post after Churchill substitute Israil Gurung did the spadework against Kamalpreet to put in the delivery.