Kolkata giants East Bengal lost 1-2 to Syrian powerhouse Al Ittihad and suffered their fifth straight defeat in the AFC Cup, in Aleppo, Syria.
The Indian side which fielded an inexperienced team for their penultimate league match, threatened to snatch a point when Beingaichho Beikhokhei pulled a goal back seven minutes from time, after Ahmmad Kalasi (14th minute) and Tamer Rasheed (58th) had put the Syrian side 2-0 up at the Aleppo International Stadium on Tuesday night, but fell short.
Taking the field without five senior players, including star striker Baichung Bhutia and captain Syed Rahim Nabi, East Bengal struggled in the first 45 minutes but raised their game in the second session to give a tough fight to the Syrian side.
With the win, Al Ittihad, who played in the elite AFC Champions League till 2008, strengthened their chances of a semi-final berth from Group D with 10 points from five matches while East Bengal are already out of the reckoning.
East Bengal end their forgettable AFC Cup campaign with a match against Al Nejmeh of Lebanon at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan stadium in Kolkata on April 27.