New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) Midfielder Yusa Katsumi grabbed a late winner as ONGC dented East Bengal's title hopes courtesy a 1-0 win in the 15th round of I-League football at the Ambedkar Stadium here Tuesday.
The Japanese playmaker, who was adjudged Man of the Match, capped off a brilliant game with a cool right-foot finish in the 86th minute to give ONGC a memorable win.
The win took ONGC to seventh place while East Bengal with 27 points from 14 matches are in third place.
Thanks to the defeat, East Bengal lost ground on league leaders Churchill Brothers, who are one point ahead having played two games less.
East Bengal, who had most of the possession, failed to take their chances and were made to pay dearly for their lacklustre performance in front of the goal.
The Kolkata giants started the match with a high tempo. India international Mehtab Hossain bossed the midfield winning key tackles.
East Bengal constantly broke through ONGC's defence in the first half but strikers Eden Chidi and Robin Singh were very wasteful.
Most of the East Bengal attacks came from over the top balls from defence. The two big strikers on more than one occasion found themselves behind the ONGC back four but faltered at the last hurdle.
The first went to Lalrindika Ralte, who's close range shot went straight to ONGC custodian Rehenesh T.P.
ONGC relied heavily on counter attacks but suffered due to missed passes. Hassan Adedla was a rock in ONGC defence and was one of the key contributors in keeping East Bengal at bay.
With the first half nearing its end, Edeh Chidi had a golden chance to give his side the lead but ONCG keeper came off his line brilliantly to and stopped the Nigerian. Chidi had another chance from the rebound but failed to lob past the keeper with an empty goal abegging.
The second half started in much the same vein with East Bengal setting camp in ONGC half. Robin could have given his side the lead in the 57th minute but headed just wide.
Katsumi on the other hand was at the centre of all of ONGC's attacks but a lack of support from his team mates meant that the stalemate continued.
The ONGC defence stood strong as East Bengal bombarded them with aerial balls but the Koklkata team were time and again thwarted by a stubborn defence.
The winner emanated from another one of ONGC's counter attacks. Lalmuanpuia fed the ball to Katsumi, who beat a defender and cut in right, unleashing a brilliant right-footer that crashed into the net.
Coach Trevor Morgan brought on Manandeep Singh as East Bengal switched to three strikers but the equaliser remained elusive.