East Bengal fought tooth and nail but still could not avert their third consecutive AFC Cup defeat and went down 2-3 to Al Qadsia of Kuwait in their home leg encounter at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan (YBK) in Kolkata, on Wednesday.
Bader Al-Motawaa scored twice in the second and 84th minute, while Jehal Al-Hossain scored in the 19th minute in the Kuwait outfit's first win that helped them climb to the top of Group D with three points from the match.
East Bengal showed some fighting spirit and reduced the margin through Subhash Singh (19th) and Yusif Yakubu (68th) but could not make it past the visitors.
East Bengal now have a 11-match winless streak in the I-League and AFC Cup under the Belgian coach Philippe de Ridder, whose contract with the red-and-gold brigade is unlikely to be renewed.
The Kuwait side began the proceedings in outstanding fashion with Bader providing them the early lead.
It was Al-Hossain whose powerful shot was deflected by East Bengal goalkeeper Priyant Singh, playing in place of regular Abhra Mondal.
But Bader had placed himself at a vantage spot to strike home the rebound to give Al Qadsia a second minute lead.
Playing 4-4-2, Al Qadsia kept on attacking and were foiled by Priyant in the seventh minute.
But the custodian's inexperience was exposed in the 19th minute when he was out of his position as Al-Hossain chipped over him to make it 2-0.
Five minutes later, a misunderstanding between an Al Qadsia defender and goalkeeper Ali Al-Rasheed resulted in a goal for East Bengal who reduced the margin through Subhas.
A Mehtab Hossain pass from the right was capitalised by Subhas who headed into the open net as the Kuwaitis misread the move.
In the 29th minute, Priyant effected a diving save to thwart a powerful Bader right-footer.
East Bengal had an opportunity in the 38th minute to equalise but Yusif Yakubu, from a cross off Beingaichho Beiokhokhei, could only hit the post as the local team went into the breather 1-2 down.
Just after the break, captain Syed Rahim Nabi had only goalkeeper to beat but muffed one of the easiest opportunities.
They found the equaliser in the 68th minute through Yakubu when a Sanju Pradhan's brilliant lob was utilised inside the box by the Ghanaian striker.
Al-Rasheed came out to collect but missed the flight as Yakubu's header found the mark to level matters.
Just six minutes before the final whistle, Bader scored with an angular shot to complete the scoreline.
East Bengal had earlier lost to Al Ittihad (Syria) 1-4 and Al Nejmeh (Lebanon) 0-3 in their AFC Cup ties to languish at the bottom of Group D without any points.
Al Qadsia have five points from three outings to head the table.