Defending champions Dempo made a disappointing start to their I-League campaign. On a roll after qualifying for the AFC Cup semi-finals, Dempo went down 1-2 to a spirited JCT in the opening round match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Sunday.
For the first time in over two years, Dempo have lost at home in India's premier football event.
The Goan outfit was unable to translate their superiority into goals and paid the price for the profligacy in front of goal. On the other hand, JCT did well to create two goals from the few chances that came their way.
The Punjab outfit played second fiddle to Dempo yet they took the lead in the 17th minute. Brazilian striker Eduardo Escobar neatly chested down Baljit Singh's long pass from the left before slotting past goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal to silence Dempo supporters.
Dempo had their chance to neutralise the lead in the first half but found it difficult as the stubborn rival defence just wasn't caving in. Central defenders Anwar and Julius Akpela combined well with wing-backs Daljit Singh and Baldeep Singh to frustrate the Dempo attackers. And whenever they were beaten, goalkeeper Karanjit Singh effected some brilliant saves. He showed great reflexes and fine anticipation.
JCT, at the receiving end once again, caught the Goans by surprise, doubling the lead in the 64th minute. Baljit initiated a move down the middle before releasing a through pass for Balwant Singh, who coolly slotted the ball past an advancing substitute goalkeeper Satish V.P. who replaced an injured Mondal in the second half.
Stunned by the second goal, Dempo regrouped and went all out, but could manage just one strike.