Mohun Bagan squandered their lead in the last 13 minutes to settle for a 2-2 draw against leaders Dempo, something that shattered their I-League hopes after the 22nd round fixture at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday.
In an action-packed first-half, Nigerian stalwart Odafa Okolie fired in two goals in seven minutes to take Mohun Bagan past Dempo who were leading with a Ranti Martins strike from a penalty in the 4th minute.
But in their must-win game, Mohun Bagan could not hold to their 2-1 lead as Koko Sakibu pulled one back for his team in the 77th minute to deny a fine win to the home giants.
Mohun Bagan would be ruing Odafa's missed penalty chance in the 26th minute after he hit the upright, something that also denied him a hattrick.
The draw would help Mohun Bagan's bitter-foes East Bengal in their title pursuit as the latter find themselves six points behind Dempo (47) with four more rounds left.
Dempo raced to a 1-0 lead when Mohun Bagan defender Syed Rahim Nabi handed the ball inside their box as Martins easily converted from the spot.
But Mohun Bagan did not give up and enjoyed the better ball possession to put pressure on an unimpressive Dempo defence.
Mohun Bagan's first opportunity came in the 22nd minute when they were awarded a similar penalty after Jose Barreto's shot was handed by a Dempo defender inside their box.
There was drama in store when the Nigerian goal machine missed a rare penalty when his shot hit the upright much to the dismay of the boisterous home support.
Two minutes later, Odafa made up for the miss when he exposed Dempo's fragile defence, beating Sameer Naik with his skill before shooting past Subhasish Roy Chowdhury with a right-footer.
Having got into the act, the Nigerian showed his class when he utitlised a Jewel Raja pass to perfection with a brilliant finish to give Mohun Bagan a 2-1 lead in the 33rd minute.
Mohun Bagan however could not maintain the intensity in the second-half as Dempo struck back through Sakibu, bringing up the equaliser from a Climax Lawrence centre.
Shilton Paul saved Mohun Bagan the blushes by thwarting an Anthony Pereira close ranger in the 87th minute.
The result meant Mohun Bagan's drop to 5th position in the I-league standings with 39 points from 22 matches.
Churchill prove too strong for Prayag
Brazilian striker Roberto Mendes da Silva struck two delightful goals as Churchill Brothers demolished Prayag United 5-2 at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Sunday.
The Brazilian striker's wonderful goals were the highlight in the team's win and helped the team overtake Prayag United with 38 points. Churchill have a match in hand against Pailan Arrows and this win should help them make considerable progress, although there still remains a huge gap between them and leaders Dempo Sports Club (47 points). Prayag stay on 37 points.
Pune FC breaks into top-3 for the first time
Determined Pune FC continued their upward surge by registering a 3-0 win over Chirag United Kerala at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi on Sunday.
The victory helped Pune FC (40 points) move into third position on the league table -- a feat achieved for the first time in the ongoing 2011-2012 season .
Pune FC closed out the game with first-half strikes from striker Mandjou Keita (5th minute), who then played the perfect assist compatriot striker Subash Singh (6th minute) and medio Arata Izumi (39th minute).