Fourteen-time champions East Bengal put up an inspired show to trounce Air India 4-0 in a Group 'B' quarter-final league match of the Durand Cup football tournament at the Ambedkar stadium in Delhi on Saturday.
The defeat almost knocked Air India out of the competition. They now have three points from two group matches, having beaten MEG, Bangalore, in their first outing.
MEG will have to beat East Bengal by at least a five-goal margin, for Air India to move into the semi-finals.
The situation was similar in Group 'D' after Salgaocar defeated Punjab State Electricity Board 2-0.
PSEB, having drawn their earlier match against Assam Regimental Centre, are out of the competition while ARC need an unlikely win against Salgaocar to make it to the last-four stage.
Salgaocar's first goal came in the 16th minute when Sunday Seah pounced on a mispass by Ramesh Kumar inside the penalty area and slotted home comfortably.
Although it took almost an hour for the next goal, there was little doubt as to who dominated the match.
A fine move by Seah and Dharamjit Singh culminated in Ryan D'Souza netting the second goal with a left footer in the 73rd minute to seal the match for Salgaocar.
East Bengal made the most of sloppy marking by Air India to score three goals in ten minutes in the first-half.
Malsawma Thulanga set up the first goal with a sharp run down the right, crossing it for Nigerian Mike Okoro to tap home in the 33rd minute.
Five minutes later, a casual Air India midfield let Chandan Das have a free run down the middle and the East Bengal outside-right's accurate right-footer found Shasti Duley on top of the box for an on the run shot into the net.
But the turning point of the match came on the 43rd minute when, trying to clear a harmless cross from Okoro, Dennis George lobbed the ball into his own goal.
That goal left Air India a demoralised lot and the team never really recovered from the setback.
The fourth goal, 15 minutes after resumption, from Okoro proved to be the last nail in Air India's coffin.