Former champions Dempo wrested back the top slot in the I-League after they defeated East Bengal by a solitary goal here on Sunday.
With this all-important victory, Dempo now have 38 points while Mahindra have 37 points.
At Margao, Churchill Brothers won 1-0 against Shillong Lajong FC to displace Chirag United from the third position. They now have 32 points from 19 matches while Chirag are at 31 points, having played a match more.
East Bengal, however, continue to be perched precariously at the 12th position with 21 points from 19 matches. Lajong FC are level with East Bengal in terms of points but are worse off on goal difference.
Coming from a welcome
6-1 thrashing of Kalighat M.S in the Calcutta Football League, East Bengal began proceedings on a positive note. They repeatedly opened up the Dempo defence but then were just not good enough to score the all-important goal.
Dempo dug deep in the first half and barely made any foray into the opponent’s box.
East Bengal had two clear chances to score but skipper Syed Rahim Nabi — unmarked and with barely any challenge — fluffed both of them.
Later, Dempo coach Armando Colaco said that they were lucky to survive that period.
But once the lights came on, Dempo wore a different look and played with much more purpose.
East Bengal, on the other hand, supplanted Abel Hammond with Sanju Pradhan, which essentially killed off East Bengal’s penetrative power.
Clifford Miranda, who was rested for the first half because of searing conditions, was brought on after the breather. Within a minute, Dempo surprised East Bengal after Peter Carvalho surged in to volley home Anthony Pereira’s corner-kick.
This was Dempo’s first win over East Bengal in Kolkata in the I-league.