Shillong, Feb 14: Shillong Lajong went down 5-0 to East Bengal in their I-League meeting in Kolkata today.

This is Lajong’s worst margin of defeat against East Bengal in the I-League. The Kolkatans had previously beaten SLFC by four-goal margins on three separate occasions, but they went one better today.

Laldanmawia Ralte produced a perfect hat-trick, while Jobby Justin and Enrique Esqueda scored the others. The hosts were leading 4-0 at half time, with Lajong completely out of the contest and the lone second half goal brought up Laldanmawia’s treble.

This is, remarkably, Lajong’s third defeat by five-goal margins this season. They had earlier lost 6-1 to Real Kashmir and Chennai City. They have now conceded 44 goals this season – the joint highest they’ve ever conceded – and have crossed 300 goals conceded in their I-League history.

The victory takes East Bengal to third in the standings with 28 points, while Lajong continue to keep bottom spot warm with their presence. They have 10 points.

If TSR’s memory is correct, this was the first match all season in which Lajong coach Alison Kharsyntiew picked the same team for two consecutive matches, with the line-up mirroring the one that won 3-2 against Churchill Brothers on 5th February.

EB earned an early header, which was taken by Lalrindika Ralte and headed in by Laldanmawia in the eighth minute.

All the action was taking place in SLFC’s half, with nothing really going the visitors’ way. Samuel Lyngdoh Kynshi did go just over with a free-kick after 20 minutes, but it was the hosts who scored again less than half an hour into the match, with Laldanmawia lobbing Lajong goalkeeper Phurba Tempa Lachenpa.

The hosts were in no mood to slow down after the doubling of the lead, with Justin getting his name on the scoresheet after receiving a chipped ball from Esqueda that he put into the empty net with Lachenpa off his line.

Lalrindika provided another assist before the break, with Esqueda the beneficiary and he pumped the ball into the back of the net.

Laldanmawia then got his hat-trick a little more than an hour into the game when Kassim Aidara put in a through ball for Jaime Santos on the right. He dribbled past one defender and cut the ball into the box. Justin let it through and Laldanmawia almost looked like tripping over the ball, but he steadied himself and fired it past Lachenpa.

Defeat means that Lajong’s brief two-game winning streak ended and it ended ignominiously. The Reds will return to Shillong to face another big challenge when they host Chennai City on 18th February.

(TSR file photo)

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