Dempo braved rough tackles and a spirited fight from Mumbai FC to win two goals to the good and open up a six point lead at the top of the table with only eight rounds to go. After East Bengal’s shock loss to Prayag United, the table toppers had a chance to go six points clear by beating 11th placed Mumbai FC. Dempo made only one forced change to their playing XI, Rowilson Rodrigues coming in place of a suspended Cresson Antao. Koko Sakibo and Ranti Martins started again upfront and looked to make amends after being guilty of missing several chances against Salgaocar.
Mumbai FC made the brighter start with two Goan boys, Nicholas Rodrigues and former Dempo player Cavin Lobo threatening with some good play. As early as the fifth minute Ncholas penetrated inside the penalty area but could not force a save from Subhasish. Cavin Lobo and Malasawmkima combined well to give the visitors some early hiccups. But Dempo got a penalty against the run of play when when Koko Sakibo was brought down by Ajamaludheen. Ranti Martins made no mistake from the spot and converted via a deflection off the left post to give Dempo the lead.
It stayed that way till half time. In the second half, Mumbai played a more physical game and stifled Dempo’s free flowing football by committing lot of fouls. Just fater the restart, Ebi Sukore tried a bicycle kick but failed to score for Khalid Jamils men. Ranti then missed a golden chance to double Dempo’s lead after being fed by koko Sakibo. But the Nigerian put his shot just wide of the post, Mumbai FC’s best chance came in the 70th minute when a shot by Haroon went just wide of the post. Dempo replaced Cliford Miranda with Joaquim Abranches in the 77th minute and five minutes later Peter Carvalho came in for Climax Lawrence. Mumbai FC continued to come hard at Dempo but Mahesh Gawli and Rowilson Rodrigues were brave in defense and thwarted every danger.
Dempo made the result safe in the third minute of stoppage time after a brilliant move by Densill Theobald saw him dribble past three defenders and lay the ball to Ranti who had the simplest task of putting it in and making sure Dempo came away from Pune with all three points. Coach Mauricio was honest enough to admit that Dempo did not play their normal free flowing football thanks to Mumbai FC’s rough physical play. “We did not play our normal game today. They were too destructive and committed a lot of fouls. In the second half we changed our strategy; we also played a bit physical”. He also added that Dempo are in with a very good chance to win the title but they have to keep their feet firmly on the ground and keep working hard. He also said that the next game against Pune FC would be crucial for Dempo. Ranti Martins took his tally to 21 goals for the season and aid that he was happy with his performance and more so because the team secured all three points. Dempo play their next game against Pune FC at Fatorda on Sunday.
Mumbai FC 0-2 Dempo SC
Man of the MAtch: Koko Sakibo