Defending champions Dempo's I-League title hopes went up in smoke after they went down 2-3 to Pune FC in Pune on Friday.
Arata Izumi struck twice (56th and 76th minutes) after Mandjou Keita put Pune FC ahead in the 34th minute.
Roberto Silva (62nd) and Ranti Martins (66th) scored for Dempo, who desperately needed to win to remain in the race for the I-League title.
Dempo's defeat at the Balewadi Sports Complex brightened Salgaocar's chances of winning their maiden I-League title.
Dempo are now placed fourth on 47 points, with two matches remaining -- against Air India on May 30 and HAL, on June 1.
Even if Dempo win both matches, they can get 53 points at most, the same as Salgaocar, who have one match in hand and a bigger goal difference (29 to Dempo's 17).
Only Churchill Brothers, who are second now on 50 points with one match remaining, have a chance to topple Salgaocar.
But that can happen only if they beat Pune FC at home on May 31 by a big goal margin and pray that Salgaocar lose to JCT in the last round match at Ludhiana on May 30.
Only a two-goal difference separates Salgaocar and Churchill Brothers, with both having one match at hand but the former three more points in their kitty.
East Bengal, who are third now on 47 points, are theoretically still in the race for the title but to do that they will have to win by huge margins in their last two matches -- against HAL in Bangalore on Saturday and Chirag United on June 1 -- and pray that Salgaocar lose to JCT.