Man of the match Roberto Silva's brilliant performance helped Dempo score a convincing 3-1 victory to halt title aspirant Salgaocar's dream run in the I-League, played at Nehru Stadium, in Margao, on Saturday.
Defending champions Dempo, who needed a win desperately, took an early lead in the 4th minute.
Following a corner on the right, Clifford Miranda floated the ball into the box which 'keeper Karanjit Singh who came out managed to punch. Defender Luciano Sobrosa headed the ball on the path of Ogba Kalu, whose low shot at the goal was diverted into the net by Climax Lawrence.
Salgaocar then regrouped and controlled the mid-field with quick short passes and moved the ball well on the flanks as they forced the rivals on the back foot.
Their persistent efforts bore fruit when they found the net in the 31st minute. Defender Jaspal Parmar from the right laid a long pass to Yusif Yakubu who took a rival defender in his stride and after entering the box uncorked an angular drive on the run that hit the far post before finding the net.
Dempo's Roberto Silva and Ranty Martins split the rival defence with intelligent passing to take a lead in the 43rd minute.
Roberto from the middle split the defence with a through pass to Ranty Martins, who beat the rival 'keeper Karanjit Singh with a low shot to take Dempo to 2-1 at the interval.
Salgaocar, who enjoyed midfield superiority in both the halfs, came close in finding the equaliser when a snap shot from substitute Cajetan Fernandes from 35-yards was put out by keeper Laxmikant Kattimani by diving to his left.
With Salgaocar going all out in search of the equaliser and their defenders leaving lot of gaps as they moved up, Dempo punished them with a goal in the 85th minute.
Kalu Ogba from the middle gave a through pass to Roberto Silva who raced and beat an onrushing keeper Singh, to find the net.
Dempo, who have played 21 matches, reduced the gap at the top of the table with this win and took their tally to 44 points, the same as East Bengal and Churchill Brothers.
Salgaocar still remain at the top with 46 points from 21 matches.
AI hold Churchill Bros in thriller
Hosts Air India on Saturday kept their chances of avoiding relegation zone alive as they pulled a 2-2 draw against Goan giants Churchill Brothers in round 23 I-League match.
Okorogortraise scored twice for the airmen on 15th and 92nd minute as the hosts came back from backlog of 1-2 to level the thriller in the dying moments.
For Churchill Brothers, Odafe Okolie and Bineesh Balan scored goals at 17th and 92nd minute respectively.
The Churchills have earned 44 points from 23 matches while Air India 21 points from as many matches.