Dempo pip Salgaocar, within sniffing distance of the title

Was there ever a dull Salgaocar-Dempo match in recent memory? The two Goan rivals have been producing classic after classic at every encounter and yesterday was no different. The match had a characteristic poachers goal from Koko Sakibo, a goal from a blistering counter attack, one from the penalty spot, three sending off’s and a stunning one handed save from Dempo keeper Laxmikant Kattimani. In the end, Dempo’s 3-2 win over the current table toppers means that a win in their remaining two encounters would see them successfully defend their Goa League crown.

Both teams put out strong sides for this crucial encounter. The stakes were high for Salgaocar as a win against Dempo would mean they would clinch the Goa League. Karim Bencherifa started with three foreigners. Edeh Chidi and Ryuji Sueoka up front and Luciano Sabrosa marshalling the defense. Dempo coach Mauricio Afonso on the other hand started with only two foreigners and left Ranti Martins on the bench. Young Romeo Fernandes who had a great game against Sporting started on the right while his U-20 colleague Brian Mascarenhas started on the left. Dempo were one up after fifteen minutes when a brilliant over the defense ball from Japanese Kato found Koko who made a brilliant run and the Nigerian slotted home despite pressure from Khelemba Meitei for his seventh goal of the Goa League. But exactly at the half hour mark, Ryuji Sueoka scored the leveller for Salgaocar after a defensive mistake left keeper Kattimani unsighted allowing Ryuji to slot the ball home from the goalkeepers area. Salgaocar hardly created any chances and their defenders were kept busy all day. After forty minutes an unwell Yusuke Kato was replaced by Ranti Martins and within five minutes he set up Koko for his second of the game. After receiving the ball from the left Ranti crossed brilliantly in between Sabrosa and Meitei and Koko headed past Vinay to restore Dempo’s advantage going into the break.

After the break the lights took full effect and the pace of the game livened up. Salgaocar went all out in search of the equalizer. But they fell further behind after a swift counter attack from Dempo that had brilliance written all over it. Defending a corner, Peter Carvalho spotted Romeo Fernandes on the right and essayed in a pass. The young U-20 sensation ran with the ball brilliantly and crossed to an unmarked Ranti who let the ball go across him and then blasted it with his left foot. That seemed to settle the tie but there was drama to follow. A clash between Ranti Martins and Luciano Sabrosa- the latter getting a cut on his forehead- saw both players getting into an altercation resulting in their sending off. Peter Carvalho was also sent off two minutes before the end after tackling Gilbert Oliveira inside the penalty area. Ryuji Sueoka made no mistake from the spot to make it a frantic stoppage time for Dempo. Then came a moment of brilliance from Kattimani who saved one handed from a Sueoka shot to deny Salgaocar the equalizer.

TEAMS

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

1

SALGAOCAR SC

12

6

4

2

21

11

9

22

2

DEMPO SPORTS CLUB

11

7

0

4

23

10

13

21

3

CHURCHILL BROTHERS

11

6

2

3

10

7

3

20

4

SPORTING CLUBE DEGOA

11

5

2

4

17

16

1

17

5

VASCO SC

10

2

6

2

6

10

-4

12