AFC Cup semi-finalists East Bengal suffered a jolt ahead of their big match next week as they were beaten by former champions Dempo 3-1 in Kalyani on Thursday.
The home side, which turned in a mediocre display, saw their ace marksman Edeh Chidi miss a penalty when the team was reduced to 10 men, after Uga Okpara was sent off following a second yellow in the 75th minute.
Dempo, who in the process registered their first victory of the season in five matches in the league, came up with a pleasing display and scored through a brace from Brazilian striker Beto (54th and 76th minute) and captain Clifford Miranda, who gave the Goans a third minute lead.
East Bengal’s goal was scored by substitute Baljit Singh Sahni in the 86th minute.
Dempo now have six points from five matches, while East Bengal, who had a delayed start to their league campaign, have three from two matches.
East Bengal were caught unaware as early as the third minute when Billy Mehmet's low cross from the right was well-executed by Miranda, who sent the ball past Abhijit Mondal, who was preferred over Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Keen for a big win ahead of their home and last leg semi-final against Kuwait SC in the AFC Cup on October 22, Marcos Falopa fielded a full strength side but the intent was missing.
East Bengal had a chance right after conceding the goal when Arnab Mondal set it up for Chidi but an alert Subhashish Chowdhury thwarted the effort.
The red and gold brigade got back-to-back chances in the 20th minute, but James Moga and Chidi let the home fans down.
But the biggest blow to the home camp came in the 35th minute when Chidi failed to score from the spot, his shot going wide off the left post as Dempo held on to their slender lead.
Dempo doubled the lead when Miranda swung in a corner, which beat the home team defenders and goalkeeper Mondal, who missed an easy collection, allowing Beto to fire in at the far post.
More misery was in store for home fans in the 74th minute when Uga Okpara, who had already been booked in the 10th minute, brought down substitute Joy Ferraro and was sent off.
Beto converted the penalty to complete the tally.
Image: Beto (left) and Clifford Miranda celebrate after the final whistle in Kalyani on Thursday.
Photograph: AIFF Media