Churchill Brothers ended Dempo's dream run of seven straight wins as they overcame a second half challenge to edge past the city rivals 2-1 in an eighth round I-League clash at the Nehru Stadium in Margao on Sunday.
Dempo coach Armando Colaco's worst fears that his team would lose today's game against Churchill after missing seven regular players, who are on national duty in the ongoing SAFF Championships in Delhi, came true.
Dempo, who played the match under protest, came back strongly in the second half but missed at least three clear chances before finding the net in the third minute of the second half stoppage time.
Churchill, who also missed three regular players -- Steven Dias, Gourmangi Singh and Lalrindika -- played an attacking game and took the lead through a controversial goal in the 22nd minute when defender Antun Matthew Kovacic essayed a volley from inside the box off a flag kick taken by Roberto Silva.
Rival keeper Laxmikant Kattimani dived and blocked the fierce shot on the goal line and collected the ball off the second attempt before the ball could cross the line.
But referee Pratap Singh, who was near the post, awarded the goal in favour of Churchill Brothers after assistant referee pointed the flag towards the centre line.
The goal turned the momentum in favour of Churchill as they held midfield superiority in the first half.
The only time Dempo came close to scoring was in the 30th minute when a Joe Rodrigues lob from a corner kick saw defender Rowilson Rodrigues attempt hit the bar.
Churchill increased their tally in the stoppage time of the first half.
Henri Arnaud Autchouet, who had missed an open chance earlier, made amends when his shot from inside the box off a pass from Lenny Rodrigues deflected defender Valeriano Rebello's leg and caught keeper Kattimani off guard to find the net.