Margao: Salgaocar Sports Club suffered a severe jolt in their title hopes as they went down fighting to Mumbai FC 2-3 in a 25th round I-League match at the Nehru
Stadium here on Friday.
Mumbai FC scored through Keegan Pereira (17th), Noel Wilson (32nd) and Nicholas Rodrigues (69th).
Salgaocar fought back in the second half to reduce the margin through Yusif Yakubu (64th) and substitute Milagres Gonsalves (87th).
Mumbai FC played a tactical game in the first half with a lone forward in Henry Ezeh and having five men in the midfield to suppress the free flow passing game of their opponents.
The visitors used their height to their advantage relying on long ball and surprised the rival custodian with long shots that found the net on three occasions.
After S Kuttymani failed to direct his shot on target in the seventh minute, Mumbai FC went into the lead in the 17th minute.
Kima Malsawm picked Keegan Pereira who controlled the ball?and from 25-yards essayed a left-footer that beat diving keeper Karanjit Singh as the ball hit the inside of the post and went in.
Mumbai FC increased the lead in the 32nd minute as Nicolas Rodrigues sent a long pass on the right to Noel Wilson, who, on seeing the rival keeper Karanjit Singh
advancing, floated the ball to find the far corner of the net.
Salgaocar made two quick changes in the closing stage of the first half, bringing in Milagres Gonsalves and Cajetan Fernandes in place of Francis Fernandes and Jaspal Parmar.
They had a golden chance to reduce the margin in the dying minutes of the first half but rival keeper Nidhin Lal did well to gain ground to collect a low shot from Gilbert Oliveira off a cross from Ryuji Sueoka.
The home side were a transformed side after the change of ends as they put the rival defence under pressure with a barrage of moves and reduced the margin in the 64th minute.
Sueoka, from the right, relayed the ball to Gonsalves who on entering the box sent a cross to Yusif Yakubu, with the latter heading it in.
The goal spurred Salgaocar as they went all out in search of the equaliser but Mumbai FC came up with a counter move and again surprised the rival keeper with a long shot.
Nicholas Rodrigues, who got the ball from Ebi Sukore, ran solo and after entering the box took a snap shot that surprised keeper Karanjit Singh and found the back of the net in the 69th minute.
Salgaocar then reduced the margin in the 87th minute when a move from the left saw Rino Anto send a cross into the box which rival defender Faizal Rehman cleared. The ball went to unmarked Gonsalves who dispatched it into the net.
The Goan club threw everything in the last 10 minutes but the rival defence stood tall to deny them the equaliser.
Salgaocar still remain at the top of the table with 46 points after today`s defeat from 22 matches.
East Bengal, Dempo and Churchill Brothers are trailing Salgaocar by two points and have a chance to claim the top spot if they win their next matches.
Mumbai FC moved to fifth place after this win taking their tally to 32 points from 22 matches.
Referee Dinesh Nair showed a yellow card to Salgaocar`s Yusuf Yakubu, Ryuji Sueoka, Mumbai FC`s Goutam Debnath and Ebi Sukore.