East Bengal saw its title hopes almost extinguished when it played out a 1-1 draw with visiting Sporting Clube de Goa in a 24th round encounter of the I-League at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Sunday. This was the fourth consecutive draw for East Bengal, which drifted away further from the current league leader Churchill Brothers (47 points from 22 matches).

Sporting Clube took the lead against the run of play through its Spanish striker Juan Pena before East Bengal found the equaliser in the second session off Nigerian Edeh Chidi.

Needing a win to keep its title hopes intact, the home team failed to get desired start and conceded a goal late in the first half. East Bengal had some early chances which went waste in want for a proper finishing. Juan Pena, the Spanish striker, put the visitor in the lead in the 44th minute with a beautiful curling finish that beat the East Bengal custodian Abhijit Mondal all ends up.

Making desperate efforts to comeback after the break, East Bengal saw Chidi finding the equaliser in the 62nd minute when he nodded home a fine cross from wing-back Robert Lalthalmuana. East Bengal earned some more chances to find the lead but Sporting Clube bolstered its defence to preserve the scoreline.

East Bengal now has 43 points from 23 outings while Sporting Clube has 31 from 24 matches.

The result: Sporting Clube de Goa 1 (Juan Pena 44) drew with East Bengal 1 (Edeh Chidi 62).

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