Roberto Silva reminded one of Real Madrid winger Roberto Carlos, when he pulled one back for Dempo. But that could not stop Churchill Brothers from entering the final of the Durand Cup for the third time in a row.
Better known as Beto, the Brazilian's 83rd-minute scorcher gave Dempo a glimmer of hope, after Charan Rai and Okolie Odafa had put the I-League winners in the driver's seat by finding the target on either side of the break. But Dempo, despite fighting till the last minute, couldn't find the much-needed equaliser.
Maybe Beto's strike came a bit too late, but Dempo have only themselves to blame for their ouster. Rai, who probably scored the most important goal of his career, may have given his team an upper hand, but as far as the possession was concerned, Dempo called the shots before the breather.
The change of ends saw Churchill in a much better shape, with skipper Odafa joining the party, but even then, Dempo had their share of chances.
While Rai scored in a goalmouth melee following a Cresson Antao deflection, Odafa scored the way he usually does. The Nigerian left the Dempo defenders in his wake and unleashed his trademark right-footer from the top of the box.
What really hurt the three-time league winners on Saturday was their strikers' failure to coordinate with the wingers. Nicolau Borges and Anthony Pereira were extremely efficient on the wings but the combined failure of Sunil Chhetri and Ranti Martins to reach out to their crosses meant Gourmangi Singh and Co. had to work overtime in defence.
Armando Colaco replaced the off-colour Chhetri with Joaquim Abranches, something that the Goan should have done much before the 81st minute. Amidst all the mediocrity upfront, Pereira stood out for his efficiency. He may not have fully lived up to Bob Houghton's expectations in the Nehru Cup, but the right-winger, who played on the left under Houghton, looked the most impressive Dempo player on Saturday.
The hearings in the dispute between Mohun Bagan and Bhaichung Bhutia ended on Saturday with both parties expected to file written submission by Tuesday. A final decision is expected next week, said AIFF-appointed arbitrator Amarendra Sharan.
Sharan heard both parties' arguments, while Bhutia put forward his plea for interim relief. Mohun Bagan's counsel, Suri and Co., felt that since proper procedures were not followed, the case should be treated as conciliation and not arbitration.
It is learnt that Bagan might challenge the verdict in a higher court if the decision goes against them.