Defending National Football League champions, Dempo Sports Club, Goa, thrashed Viva Kerala 4-1 to lift the inaugural ONGC I-League title at the Corporation stadium in Kozhikode on Saturday.
Requiring a win in the 18th and final round to clinch the title after being tied up with Churchill Brothers for the top spot at 33 points, Dempo did well to surge clear after leading 3-1 in the first half.
Though Churchill also won their final round engagement against Air India 3-0 at Margao, Dempo were crowned champions by virtue of better goal difference.
18th round results:
Dempo bt Viva Kerala 4-1
East Bengal drew 1-1 with Sporting Clube
JCT bt Salgaocar 4-0
Churchill Brothers bt Air India 3-0
Mahindra United drew with Mohun Bagan 0-0
Chidi Edeh seized the initiative for the visitors in the 27th minute neatly connecting a D'Cruz pass. Skipper Ranty Martins (31st) then scored off a penalty after rival custodian Purushothaman was penalised for a foul on Nicolav Borges.
However, Viva netted one in the 35th minute when Saleel successfully pushed the ball, coming off a corner hit from Tabia, into the net to make the proceedings lively at 2-1.
But man-of-the-match Edeh completed a brace minute before the break to leave Dempo at 3-1.
After changing ends, Viva tried hard to narrow the margin but Dempo maintained a powerful defence.
Brazilian Roberto 'Beto' scored a goal from a corner from D'Cruz (79th) to ensure his team a comfortable win.
JCT ROUT SALGAOCAR
Last year's runners-up JCT routed Salgaocar, Goa, 4-0 in their last match of the ONGC I-League at Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana on Saturday.
With the win, JCT ended the league at third position with 33 points to their kitty behind Dempo and Churchill Brothers. The Punjab side will pocket Rs 22 lakh for finishing third.
After wasting a couple of chances in the initial moments of the encounter, JCT went into the lead in the 31st minute through their star striker Sunil Chhetri.
Six minutes later, Edurado Da Silva, capatalising on a defensive lapse, slammed the ball into the net to double the lead.
Two minutes before the half time, Chhetri was again at the thick of things when he, after collecting a pass from Baljit Saini, sent a sizzler to consolidate the lead 3-0.
Immediately after changing ends, JCT further cemented the lead with skipper Julius's corner kick was successfully converted into a goal to complete the route.
Chhetri was declared man of the match.
EAST BENGAL DRAW WITH SPORTING
East Bengal drew with Sporting Clube-de-Goa 1-1 to take the sixth place.
East Bengal's Syed Rahim Nabi found the target in the 57th minute to cancel out the lead taken by the Goans through Joseph Pereira in the 21st minute at the Barasat stadium.
After 18 outings, East Bengal collected 19 points, the same as the visitors, but the city outfit got the sixth slot on the strength of better goal difference. Sporting ended seventh.
The Goans, who relied on counter attacks, went into the lead in the 21st minute when a combined move saw Elijah Junior's rasping right-footer crash against the crossbar and Joseph followed up well to put the rebound home.