Margao: Salgaocar SC came from behind to outclass East Bengal 3-2 in a crucial I-League encounter played at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda 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 points, while the loss did no favour to the Red & Golds as they now found themselves six points behind the Goan outfit.
East Bengal started positively as they looked more dominant side, breaching the rival defence with their quick passing and earned a penalty in the 10th minute.
Tolgay Ozbey, who caused all sort of trouble to Salgaocar defence with his quick running, earned East Bengal a penalty in the 10th minute after he was brought down by defender Irungbam Meitei inside the box.
Tolgay, who himself took the penalty, made no mistake to convert from the spot. 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 ball curled and dipped in to find the far corner of the net to the disbelief of East Bengal team.
Second half saw Salgaocar a different side as coach Karim Bencherifa introduced fresh pair of legs and brought in Francis Fernandes and Govin Singh in place of Anthony Barbosa and Jaspal Parmar.
The Goan outfit kept on attacking the rival goal with short passes and pushed the rival defense on their back foot 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 the ball away to safety.
Salgaocar kept on pressing in search of the winning goal and scored in the 84th minute when Yakubu Yusif headed in a low cross from the left by Rino Anto to the dismay of East Bengal.
East Bengal will now need to win all the remaining three matches and can`t afford to drop points which will only help Salgaocar SC who will just need a win against JCT in their last encounter.