A goal in 87th minute by medio Roberto Mendes Silva (Beto) guided defending champions Dempo Sports Club to a 2-2 draw against East Bengal in their fourth round ONGC I-League match being played at Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Sunday.
Dempo maintained their position with 10 points from three wins and a draw, while East Bengal increased their points tally to 7 points from two wins, a draw and a loss.
Dempo's Valereian Rebello and Roberto Mendes Silva (Beto) scored goals in the 26th and 87th minutes respectively, while MM Mukasi and Edmilson Margues hit goals in the 24th and 59th minutes respectively for East Bengal.
Dempo could have romped home comfortably had they utilised the chances that came before them, espcially in the first half. They started promisingly with better share of exchanges and attacked fluently, but faultered at a crucial juncture.
Dempo came with a first good move as early as in the 8th minute but Beto's header missed the target off a flag kick by Nicholau Borgues.
East Bengal drew first blood in the 24th minute of the first half through foreign recruit Mukasi, who after collecting a pass from Edmilson Margues moved past rival defender John Dias and slammed the ball into the far corner of the net to make it 1-1.
The lead was short-lived as a long ranger shot by Dempo's Valerian Rebello hit the rival defender Majek Bolaji and deflected into the goal 1-1.
Inspired by an equaliser, Dempo continued to attack and had a chance to increase their lead in the 30th minute, but Beto's powerpack left-footer hit the goal post and rebounded into the play.
Then in the 33rd minute, Dempo's Nicholas Borgues missed an open chance to beat the rival goalkeeper whose shot went over the bar, off a good pass from Climax Lawrence.
After change over, East Bengal played with renewed vigour and consolidated their lead in the 59th minute through Edmilson Margues' well-measured pass from Alvito D'Cunha 2-1.
Dempo had another chance to level the score in the 65th minute but East Bengal goalkeeper Subroto Paul had a fine save of a shot taken by Ranty Martin.
Dempo restored the parity in the 87th minute through Roberto Mendes Silva. On a cross pass from Mahesh Gawali, Silva chested the ball well and unleashed a power-packed shot at the corner of the net to make it 1-1 draw.
East Bengal goalkeeper Subroto Paul was adjudged the Man of the Match for his fine performance under the bar.