Kayne Vincent struck twice to help Churchill Brothers hold East Bengal 2-2 in a thrilling Round 12 I-League match at Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.
In the battle between two title contenders, East Bengal drew first blood through Sanju Pradhan in the 50th minute while Tolgay Ozbey struck the second in the 70th.
But Churchill Brothers rode on a double-effort by Vincent, who struck in the 67th and 90+1 minutes, to make a superb turnaround and return with one point.
Vincent was adjudged man-of-the-match.
Unbeaten so far, table leaders East Bengal now have 30 points, while Churchill Brothers are on third place with 23 points.
Leading goal scorer Odafa Okolie, down with a thigh muscle problem, did not play in the first half. Churchill Brothers, bolstered by their national players Gouramangi Singh and Steven Dias, did not give any chance to the home side in the goalless first 45 minutes.
East Bengal were unlucky in the ninth minute when referee P K Bose overlooked a handball inside the box leading to huge uproar from the home crowd. East Bengal players led by coach Trevor James Morgan also protested.
The Goan heavyweights, who went down to East Bengal in the Federation Cup semifinal, had their chance to go up in the 17th minute but Kayne Vincent and Boima Karpeh messed up a fine chance in the absence of Odafa.
Karpeh fired in directly at East Bengal goalkeeper Sandip Nandy while from the rebound Vincent could have scored easily but it turned out to be no different much to the relief of the home crowd.
With Gouramangi manning the Churchill defence and Dias setting it up in the mid-field region, East Bengal struggled to get it going. They strikers Tolgay Ozbey and Robin Singh struggled to get possession of the ball upfront.
East Bengal missed a scoring chance in the 39th minute when a Robin header from Penn Orji's freekick hit the crosspiece.
Franco brought down Penn inside the box in the 49th minute and the referee did not have any hesitation in awarding a penalty in favour of East Bengal.
A cool-headed Sanju Pradhan converted the penalty easily giving East Bengal the definite edge in the 50th minute. But Churchill Brothers did not give up as Vincent brought the Goans back into the game.
In the 67th minute, Churchill Brothers equalised from a brilliant centre by Dias as Vincent found the target with a low header.
East Bengal goalkeeper Nandi was out of place as Vincent brilliantly seized the opportunity nodding it in to make it even.
But it did not take long for East Bengal to snatch the lead in superb turnaround with Ozbey once again scoring in a space of three minutes.
The Australian recruit rose above the Churchill Brothers defenders as he brilliantly put it across Lalit Thapa to make it 2-1.
Minutes later, East Bengal could have easily taken a 3-1 lead but their strikers were not in sight in a defensive lapse by Churchill Brothers.
Odafa, with his right-leg strapped, came in the 86th minute and the Nigerian goal machine immediately got a chance but only to be adjudged off-side.
But an injury time goal by Vincent denied East Bengal full points as the Goans returned on a smiling note.
From a Steven Dias corner in the 90+1 minute, Vincent completed his brace to help Churchill get one point.