East Bengal fail to cross Kuwait hurdle

A spirited fightback in the second half was not enough for East Bengal as the Indian club went down 2-4 to defending champions Kuwait SC in the first leg semi-final of the AFC Cup football tournament.
For Kuwait SC, Issam Jemaa struck in the 18th and 33rd minutes, while Waleed Ali Jumah and Chedi Hammami scored a goal each in the 31st and 48th minutes respectively on Tuesday night.
For East Bengal, Uga Okpara and Lalrindika Ralte reduced the margin in the 66th and 87th minutes respectively, at the Kuwait SC Stadium.
East Bengal were staring at an embarrassing defeat when Hammami struck just two minutes into the second half to make it 4-0 for the three-time winning hosts.
The visitors, however, sprang back to life after coach Marcos Falopa introduced Ralte and Cavin Lobo in the midfield.
Ralte was immediately in the thick of things as he fired a warning shot that just cleared the crossbar.
The substitute midfielder had a hand in East Bengal’s first goal, floating in a corner from the left that was met by Okpara’s powerful header into the back of the net.
After being at the receiving end of the opposition’s onslaught in the first half, it suddenly looked like East Bengal were calling the shots after the lemon break save that strike from Hammami. Dika, as he is fondly called, himself scored a gem of a goal from a Lobo assist just before the final whistle to reduce the margin.

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