Goans Dempo SC held Kolkata giants East Bengal Club in an I-League match at the Nehru Stadium to ensure their historic fifth I-League/NFL title in eight years. The draw took Dempo to 54 points from 25 matches while East Bengal moved to 45 points from 24 matches and ended the red-and-golds hopes of regaining the I-League title.
While Dempo knew that a draw would be enough for them, East Bengal needed the three points to stay in the hunt for the title and accordingly coach Trevor Morgan fielded a three man attack in Tolgay Ozbey, Robin Singh and Edmilson Marques Pardal. East Bengal had more from the match, but they couldn’t score of their chances.
East Bengal’s best chance of the first session fell to Brazilian striker Edmilson in the 30th minute when goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury’s ball intended for defender Cressan Antao was snatched by Edmilson but with only the goalie to beat he shockingly picked-up the side post. Australian Tolgay was also presented with a good opportunity but the striker could not give finishing touches to a brilliant through ball from Mehtab Hussain.
There was some controversy in injury time of the first half when Tolgay was brought down by Rowilson Rodrigues, but the referee saw it otherwise and even booked Tolgay for allegedly diving.
After the break Dempo stood deeper allowing East Bengal more of the possession, but kept them away from their goal and didn’t allow them too many chances. The best of the session came from substitute Sanju Pradhan, whose intended cross suddenly dipped goalwards just hitting the top netting and thereafter once more Edmilson missed an golden opportunity as his header just went wide of the target.
Dempo mainly relied on counter-attacks which didn’t bring any result. Their best chance came off a Ranty Martins Soleye free-kick which hit the crossbar.
It was party time after the final whistle for Dempo’s, but they still have to play their last match against Kolkata’s Prayag United SC at the Saltlake Stadium on May 5 and there they would be presented the Champions Trophy and a cheque of Rs 7 Million (70 lakhs).
Published with permission from Arunava about Football.