Salgaocar SC came from behind to outclass East Bengal 3-2 in a crucial I-League encounter, at the Nehru stadium, in Fatorda, Goa, on Thursday.
Salgaocar now have one hand on their first ever I-League trophy as they cemented their place at the top of the table with 53 points from 25 matches, while the loss did no favour to the Red & Gold brigade as they find themselves six points behind the Goan outfit.
East Bengal started positively and looked more dominant. They rattled the rival defence with quick passing and earned a penalty in the 10th minute.
Tolgay Ozbey, who caused all sorts of trouble to Salgaocar defence with his quick running, earned East Bengal the penalty after he was brought down by defender Irungbam Meitei inside the box. Tolgay took the penalty and made no mistake.
Six minutes later, former JCT striker Baljit Sahni doubled East Bengal's lead.
The two-goal cushion was then squandered by the Red & Golds as Salgaocar pulled one back in the 33rd minute through Rino Anto. Gilbert Oliveira, from the left, took a throw-in and gave the ball to Rino Anto, who floated the ball towards the goal even as East Bengal keeper Jayanta Paul misjudged the flight of the ball as the it curled and dipped in to find the far corner of the net to the disbelief of East Bengal team.
The second half saw Salgaocar a different side, as coach Karim Bencherifa introduced fresh pairs of legs, bringing in Francis Fernandes and Govin Singh in place of Anthony Barbosa and Jaspal Parmar.
The Goan outfit kept attacking with short passes and and restored parity in the 79th minute.
Ryuji Seouka, who took a free-kick on the right, floated the ball into the box for Cajetan Fernandes, who headed in, much to the delight of the team and Salgaocar fans.
Few minutes later, Francis Fernandes came up with a fierce shot which rival keeper did well to parry away to safety.
Salgaocar kept pressing in search of the winning goal and scored the in the 84th minute when Yakubu Yusif headed in a low cross from the left by Rino Anto.
East Bengal now need to win their three remaining matches and can't afford to drop points, which will only help Salgaocar SC, who just need a win against JCT in their last encounter.