Swift and sudden like the nor’westers that hit Bengal this time of the year, Dempo whipped up a second-half storm that poleaxed Mohun Bagan at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Wednesday evening.
Beto’ s header restored parity early in the second half after Bagan took a one goal lead into the breather. Dempo then showed all the talk about Biswajit Bhattacharya trying to repair Mohun Bagan’s leaky defence was just that. Three goals in ten minutes put the result beyond any doubt.
Ranty Martins stuck in the 54th minute, after Peter Carvalho stole the ball in midfield and played Joaquim Abranches forward. Biwajit Saha then missed an attempted header, and gave Abranches an opportunity to get himself on the scoresheet. Beto, who started the Dempo comeback, finished things off in the 63rd minute.
A flick near the centre-circle beat the Bagan right-back Surkumar Singh, before Dempo’s Brazilian star completed the move heading past Surkumar.
Mohun Bagan goalie Shilton Paul, denied Dempo once and his replacement, Sangram Mukherjee, prevented a fifth when he saved Ranty’s effort after the striker had made a teasing solo run through four Mohun Bagan players.
That Mohun Bagan scored first and had a slightly better first half seems almost unbelievable, given how it ended. Manju struck the opener with a sweet left-foot volley following Edeh Chidi’s glanced header off a Marcos Perreira corner, giving the home team the lead. And they could have doubled it when Barreto freed Ishfaq on the turn. Ishfaq cut past Dias but stabbed into goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal. Mondal then plucked out a good ball from Surkumar Singh before it reached Chidi.
At the other end, Beto tested Paul a couple of times, and Deepak Mondal denied Anthony Pereira the equaliser with an interception, after his goalkeeper was caught out of position
Encapsulating the intensity of this contest was Ishfaq Ahmed’s tussle with Climax Lawrence, which left the Mohun Bagan midfielder with a gash below his left eye.
There was more of that nearing half-time with Jose Barreto being pushed around by Cresson Antao and then John Dias. Just when Peter Carvalho calmed things down, Ishfaq barrelled into Dias, sparking a fisticuff. Antao was booked and only stayed on because an earlier handball was ignored by referee Rizwan-ul Haq.
Dempo however, are almost there. With second-placed Mahindra United (38 points, 23 games) being held to a draw by Pune FC, Armando Colaco’s boys have opened up a nine-point lead on top of the table and can only be caught by Churchill who have three games in hand. But if Dempo manage four points in the remaining three rounds, I-League 3 will be theirs.