ISL 2022-23: Cleiton Silva of East Bengal is back
When at Bengaluru FC, Cleiton Silva didn’t set foot on the Sree Kanteerava Stadium pitch for a competitive game for two years because of COVID-19.
On Friday he finally appeared, only to end up haunting his former club by scoring the lone goal in a much-needed victory for East Bengal.
A mistake by BFC midfielder Suresh Wangjam decided the tie in the 69th minute to hand Simon Grayson his third straight loss and leave the side languishing ninth in the table.
The 22-year-old botched a back pass to goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu after he was duly outmuscled by Naorem Mahesh, who in turn squared the ball to Silva for an easy tap-in.
The visitors could have well been chasing the game if Roy Krishna had buried a golden opportunity in the 61st minute. Javi Hernandez fed a perfectly weighted through ball, but the striker, from close range, didn’t even trouble East Bengal goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh.
Krishna was then denied again in the 90th minute, this time by a splendid tackle from defender Ivan Gonzalez.
But for the final half hour, the match was an insipid affair. The home side’s performance was disjointed, with the midfield and the forward line rarely in sync. But for a couple of fine touches from Hernandez, it had nothing to show.
For East Bengal, it was Silva who hummed all evening, but with no one to join in the chorus. He almost nailed a one-on-one but was thwarted by a superb last-ditch sliding tackle from BFC defender Sandesh Jhingan.
But in the end, the 35-year-old emerged victorious, giving Stephen Constantine just his second victory in six contests and moving the Kolkata giant up to the eighth place.