Frenchman Bernard Mendy had a dream debut for East Bengal as he headed in the second goal in his side’s 2-0 win over Aizawl FC in an I-League football encounter at the Barasat stadium here on Friday.
Mendy’s goal came in the 74nd minute, two minutes after Bikash Jairu had given the hosts the lead following a barren first half.
With the win, East Bengal jumps to the second spot on the points table with 11 points, whereas Aizawl remains seventh with just four points.
It was however, the visitors who started sprightly in the opening few minutes creating waves of attack, but lacklustre finishing upfront let them down.
East Bengal took the time to get into their stride but had a few chances too with Mendy getting into the thick of things and letting one fly off his boot and then heading another just wide off the target.
Aizwal too tried their luck with Yuta Kinowaki after a passage of impressive build up but the midfielders strong shot was collected by East Bengal custodian Luis Barreto.
Ranti Martins came close to giving East Bengal the lead in the 38th minute but his attempt was saved brilliantly by rival custodian Soram Anganba. Four minutes later Anganba was forced into action again to deny Ranti first and then Do Dong-Hyun who booted the rebound.
After the breather, East Bengal pressed forward in numbers to get the goal but Aizawl had their moments too. Biaktea Lalbiakhlua troubled Barreto with a piledriver but the East Bengal keeper did enough to thwart the attempt for a corner.
Next, Porei denied Mendy with another strong save. A few minutes later the custodian once again collected an attempt from Ranti which nearly crept into the net.
The hosts finally clinched their first goal of the afternoon as Bikash Jairu after latching onto a cross from Joaquim Abranches found the corner of the net with a header.
Barely had Aizawl recovered from the shock when Mendy doubled the lead for his side heading in a Cavin Lobo cross.
The visitors tried hard in the last quarter of the game but the East Bengal defence stood strong and did not yield under pressure.