Dempo Sports Club lost a potentially title deciding 19th round I-League clash after Pune FC stole their thunder 1-0 at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, Goa, on Sunday.
Dempo started the match with a five point advantage over second placed East Bengal.
A win against Pune FC would have given them a crucial eight point advantage over their nearest rivals and the title would have been theirs to lose.
But, in a match where they seldom rose above the levels of mediocrity, Dempo found the visitors too stubborn to break down.
Izumi Arata scored the only goal of the match for Pune FC in the 19th minute and then the visitors defended resolutely to pick three crucial points.
It not just helped Pune FC improve their standing but also infused life into the I-League title race as the likes of East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Churchill Brothers saw their chances being given the kiss of life.
Dempo surprisingly took time to settle down and it was this hesitancy that Pune FC looked to exploit at the start.
Man of the Match was awarded to Anas Etadhodika (Pune).
Air India edge out HAL 2-1
Air India defeated Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore, 2-1 to consolidate its position in the standings after both the teams put up a great show at the Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune, on Sunday.
In a fast-paced match, Air India went up 2-0 before the halftime and defended their lead for most part, before Jagaba Hamza goal four minutes from close spoiled their clean slate.
Nonetheless, three points from this round raised their point tally to 27, while HAL is at the bottom on the table with six points.
Soon after the start, both Air India and HAL started gamely with frontline immediately taking chances. In the 26th minute, Manjit set up a move from the left and sent a cross to Bijoy Basfore, who missed a sitter from the box. A free-kick earned in the 37th minute worked for Air India as HAL goalkeeper P Pramod only managed to punch it back into play.
On resumption, there was no let up from each side as the pace of the match continued with Meiti sending neat defence splitting passes.
With just four minutes left for regulation time to end, Meiti moved from the left and sent the ball on the right, where Hamza made a frantic turn as the ball landed behind him and pushed it into the net.
Jagaba Hamza of HAL was adjudged man of the match.
Sporting Clube blank Chirag Kerala
Sporting Clube de Goa was the latest team to inflict pain on Chirag United Kerala as they ran out deserved 3-0 winners, at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kochi, on Sunday.
Dawson Fernandez struck twice in either halves while Sudanese striker James Moga found the other goal for the visitors.
The Goans were clearly the better team on the field, with Chirag's weaknesses clearly evident in their play. They were sloppy in the defense and lacked the edge to break the defensive wall set up by Sporting.
So, there wasn't any surprise when the home side went 1-0 down in the 27th minute of the game. Dawson Fernandez was there to take advantage of a defensive mix-up in the Chirag area and he tucked it in to give his side the opener of the evening.
Sporting doubled their lead in the additional minutes of the first half through James Moga and took the game away from the home side's reach.
In the second half, the home side came up with some opportunities, but Sporting's keeper Ashok Singh was a real wall infront of the goal. He denied Chirag twice in the 52nd minute as he first blocked Sukhwinder Singh's long effort and then again denied David Sunday on the rebound.
The rout was completed when substitute Jae Park played Dawson Fernandez through on goal and the striker cleverly lifted the ball over the advancing keeper Rehenesh TP into the goal to find his second of the match.
The win takes Sporting to 30 points from 19 while eleven points.
Shillong Lajong beat Arrow's
Shillong Lajong scored a comprehensive 2-0 win over Pailan Arrows, played at the Yuba Bharati Krinangan, Kolkata, on Sunday.
With this win Lajong move to 24 points from 19 matches and move closer to safety while Pailan Arrows remained 8 points from 17 matches.
In the 6th minute of play John Menyongar moved with the ball towards the left and did well to draw a couple of defenders and then passed to a free Matthew Mayora, who just had to tap in for his first goal for Lajong.
In the 12th mintue Pritam Kotal of Arrows clearly caught the leg of Matthew Mayora in the box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. The creater of the first goal John Menyongar stepped up and made no mistake from the spot to put Shillong Lajong 2-0 up.
John Menyongar played a creative and delightful match which rightly earned him the Man of the Match.