MAPUSA: Dempo Sports Club produced a sumptuous second half performance to earn one of their biggest I-League victories, by thrashing United Sikkim Football Club 7-0 at Duler grounds, here on Saturday.
Victory for the hosts came after three winless matches as they moved their tally to 33 points from 16 matches while United Sikkim, who are fighting relegation, stay on 10 points from 16 matches.
Joaquim Abranches, Koko Sakibo (3) Clifford Miranda (2) and Joy Ferrao accounted for the Dempo goals.
Dempo, playing their first I-League match at the artificial ground, attacked with ferocity where the Snow Lions’ defence looked clueless in the first five minutes.
Moves came from the right flank as Munmun Timothy was beaten thrice, but Nigerian Koko Sakibo failed to score from close quarters. Finally, in the 5th minute, Joaquim Abranches collecting a pass from medio Godwin Franco, latched on to a scorching right footer giving Dempo the 1-0 lead.
Dempo should have doubled their lead three minutes later, but Koko Sakibo’s efforts went in vain, with rival keeper Monotosh Ghosh pulling off a fine save.
At the other end, United Sikkim launched a series of attacks from the right flank as Ashish Chetri’s crosses inside the penalty box was headed twice for a corner by stopper back Cresson Antao.
The best chance for them came in the 30th minute as Nigerian Nuruddin Salau headed the ball to Nadong Bhutia, but before he could do any damage Dempo defender Debabrata Roy came with a timely clearance.
In the 33rd minute a deadly cross by Anthony Pereira was handled by Sikkim’s Sonam Bhutia, prompting Manipur referee Ajit Metei to point to the dreaded spot. Clifford Miranda’s strike from the penalty spot hit the top upright.
However, a couple of minutes later, Clifford Miranda made up for the penalty miss and scored the second goal with a stiff grounder off a pass from Koko, 2-0.
Five minutes from the breather Sikkim keeper Monotosh Ghosh came with two outstanding saves to block Joaquim Abranches’ shot and Koko’s header.
Sikkim received a major jolt, as their central defender Costa Rica Michael Stevan Rodriguez was substituted at the start of the second half, due to hamstring injury.
Six minutes into the second session, Koko Sakibo missed yet another scoring opportunity as the rival keeper blocked a close range shot.
Koko finally got his scoring act together and scored two quick goals in the 56th and 59th minute and netted his third goal in the injury time to be awarded the most valuable player of the match, from the hands of Fr Cedric Fernandes, Principal of St Britto’s High School, Mapusa.
Sikkim failed to score through Nigerian Salau twice, with Dempo keeper Subhasish Chowdhury proving to be a rock under the bar.
At the other end, Clifford Miranda netted his brace and substitute Joy Ferro added his name to the scorers’ list.
As part of Community Development Programme Dempo team invited St Britto’s school boys to witness the match, who were cheering the team right from the start till the final hooter.
Meanwhile, during the post-match chat, Dempo coach Armando Colaco said the players were putting their best foot forward and he was happy with their efforts. “The players were low on confidence before the start of today’s match but their hard work has rewarded them with a fine win. Injury to key players has been my worry and I did not know how long will I be carrying on with it,” Colaco added.
“After taking a four-goal lead, Romeo Fernandes, Nicolau Borges and Joy Ferrao were given a chance to display their talent,” he added. United Sikkim coach Nathan Hall said he was very much disappointed with today’s result. He lamented losing all his central defenders due to injury.