Kolkata [India]: Quess East Bengal (QEB) romped home to a fourth victory 5-0 against Shillong Lajong in the ongoing I-League at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata on Thursday.
The win keeps QEB on track for the first-ever league triumph, pushing them up to third on the points table, just one behind the second-placed Real Kashmir FC. They are three shy of leaders Chennai City FC, having played one game fewer than both of them.
Meanwhile, Shillong stumbled to their 12th defeat in 16 games and have conceded 44 goals to remain at the bottom in danger of relegation.
QEB’s coach Alejandro Menendez Garcia benched Kamalpreet for a more traditional left wing-back in Manoj Mohammad, but clearly left the attacking line open, starting a fit-again Esqueda to partner Jobby Justin in the danger area, with a four-man midfield behind them.
Shillong gaffer Allison Kharsyntiew naturally fielded an unchanged side, from their prized victory against Churchill Brothers in the previous game, in a 4-5-1 formation.
The hosts were on fire from the start and it was clear that Garcia had instructed to sew up the game as early as possible, given Shillong’s attacking prowess.
After Justin hashed his contact with a free header in the 4th minute off a Danmawia cross, the Mizo winger decided to take things into his own hands four minutes later. Following a Lalrindika Ralte delivery from a corner, he rose to head the ball home from close.
Shillong got two chances in two minutes. The first free-kick by Samuel Lyngdoh just sailed over and a minute later, off a QEB defensive lapse, Buam found himself in the clear inside the box, but his first touch let him down.
Danmawia Ralte, in the 27th minute, was set on his way by centre-back Borja Gomez, who displayed great vision in playing a long ball from just outside the QEB box anticipating his run.
Danmawia not only made the perfectly-timed run but brought the ball down with an exquisite first touch and then sensing keeper Purbha Lachempa was out of his line, unleashed a left-footed curler on the second touch, to lob the keeper and put the ball into the Shillong net for the second time in the game.
A minute later, a ball from Tony Dovale found Esqueda and the Mexican lobbed over an onrushing Lachempa into the centre of the box, where Justin rose above two Shillong defenders to nod home for his ninth goal of the league campaign.
QEB magic chased Shillong till the end of the half with Esqueda this time getting on the scoresheet with another sensational display of footballing skills and judgement.
Didika again delivered from the right and with his left, directed at the Mexican who first with his back to the goal, manoeuvered into position in between two defenders, took that much more time to chest the ball down and instead of using his head which looked the more obvious option, in the same action, tapped in with a volley past a stunned Lachempa.
QEB were 4-0 ahead with half the game still left to play. But there would not be any respite for Shillong as Danmawia sealed his hattrick in the 61st minute.
Kassim Aidara, who also had a great game in the centre of midfield, found substitute Jamie Colado on the right flank. The young Spaniard turned his marker in and drove towards goal, cutting in for Justin who had made a run on his inside.
The Keralite striker showed selflessness and vision for the second time in the game, stepping over for Danmawia further inside and in the clear. The Mizo had a weak first touch but recovered in time to slot the ball home.
The game was done and dusted and such was QEB’s dominance that Shillong could not even muster any corner in the game.