Spurred by the equaliser from Edmilson Marques, Chirag United pressured Dempo but missed opportunities cost the new club a chance to upset one of Indian football’s top dogs.
Wednesday’s stalemate at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan extended Mahindra United’s stay at the top of the third I-League table after 10 rounds. Chirag United and Dempo now have 19 points but Dempo are second by virtue of a better goal difference.
Peter Carvalho tilted the scales of what was till then an even contest, heading home Anthony Pereira’s corner-kick into the far corner after Chirag United left the central midfielder free inside the area.
Winners of the first I-League, the last National League, the League and Federation Cup double in 2004-05 and the only Indian team to make the semifinals of the AFC Cup, a second-tier continental tournament, in 2008, Dempo’s lead was soon neutralised by a booming free-kick.
Like a photographer sizing up a frame, the Brazilian shifted position before firing a right-foot cannonball that swung just enough in front of Abhijit Mondal to make the Dempo goalie look foolish.
Ashim Biswas could have got the insurance goal but Edmilson’s 70th minute pass, after being found in the clear by S. Dhanarajan’s long punt, was a little overcooked. Soon after, Biswas was at the right place at the right time but Mondal wasn’t to be denied.
“He (Ashim) is mature and will improve with time,” Chirag United coach Subroto Bhattacharya said of his striker on comeback trail.
Eschewing wing play to force Dempo to play narrow worked for Chirag United. Beto’s absence meant Dempo relied more on Climax Lawrence to marshall the midfield. The India star was effectively shackled in the second half by Denson Devdas and Jayanta Sen. Their midfielders staying close to the backline also meant Dempo rarely got space in the front third, especially in the second half. Like Biswas, Sunil Chhetri had a good game but couldn’t make a telling contribution.
Mumbai FC defeat Lajong
Gordon D’Costa from Mumbai: Shillong Lajong FC failed to rise from their 0-5 humbling to Mahindra United as they slumped to another defeat, this time against Mumbai FC in their 11th round match at the Cooperage. Lajong midfielder Niwano Gatpoh caught his keeper Gimpe Rime on the wrong foot by deflecting a Bashiree Abbas back-pass into his own goal but later made amends by scoring to restore parity.