Agency Kalyani: Marcos De La Espada’s 75th minute strike helped Kolkata giants East Bengal hold Real Kashmir FC to a 1-1 draw in their I-League encounter here on Wednesday. Although East Bengal enjoyed 64 per cent possession over the course of the match, Real Kashmir held their nerves to leave the ground with one point. After Gnohere Krizo put the Kashmir-based side in the driver’s seat in the 33rd minute, De La Espada heeled in the equaliser in the 75th minute to provide East Bengal supporters with some much-needed respite. From the start, the hosts were looking fluent and were passing swiftly going forward with intent. They got the first free-kick of the match but a poor delivery by Juan Mera Gonzales was easily cleared by the RKFC defence line. East Bengal’s Spanish combination was proving difficult to deal with by the Real Kashmir backline as within blink of an eye Gonzales accelerated and was almost through when he was fouled by Ritwik Kumar Das. The foul resulted in the first yellow card of the match in the 14th minute. East Bengal was attacking from both the flanks but none of the crosses were finding the target man as the away side kept on clearing the ball from the 18-yard box. Against the run of play, Real Kashmir caught East Bengal defence napping as Krizo gave his side the lead in the 33rd minute with a stupendous strike from outside the box. The home side was in no mood to bog down and soon after they came very near to equalising from a corner but it was cleared off the goal line by the away team. Real Kashmir held onto their slender lead at the end of the first 45 minutes. The second half started with great intensity with the home side launching attack after attack. In the 59th minute, the Red and Golds stitched another opportunity from a set-piece but young defender Mehtab Singh failed to find the back of the net. In the 67th minute, Alejandro Menendez Garcia made his first tactical change, introducing Abhijit Sarkar for defender Kamalpreet Singh. Finally, East Bengal scored the elusive equaliser in the 75th minute when Espada poked a low cross by Juan Mera from the left flank.
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