Dempo beat Lajong 1-0, win I-League title
Shillong: Dempo Sports Club on Sunday clinched the I-League title for the fourth time after beating Lajong FC 1-0 here, with one round of the country’s premier football league still to go.
Captain Anthony Pereira scored the all important goal in the 38th minute as the outfit became only the third team to beat Lajong at home.
The Goan club, needing just one point to take the title home, gathered three points from the match and that took them to an unassailable 53 points with 16 wins in 25 matches.
Dempo’s closest rival Churchill Brothers is way behind with 38 points and even if they win the remaining four games, they would collect not more than 50 points.
In the 38th minute, a corner kick by Lajong striker Seikhohao Tuboi landed in Pereira’s feet who then took control of the ball and sprinted towards the Lajong box.
The Lajong defence was caught unaware and could not check Pereira’s attack.
Thereafter, the relegation threatened home side tried to raid the opponent’s territory a number of times but failed to equalise the score. Lack of co-ordination left the home side sulking.
Lajong strikers could not penetrate the rock-solid defence of Dempo, with goalkeeper Abhijit Mondol putting up some stunning saves - one off Daniel Bidemi in the 60th minute, followed by another off Boithang Haokip 18 minutes later.
Lajong’s Anil Gurung, brought in by coach Stanley Rosario in the 53rd minute, also could not beat Mondol when he headed one from near the box off a Kelechi Okoye corner.
League debutant Lajong had lost 1-2 against Viva Kerala in their previous match and now are only one point above the bottom placed Mumbai FC (25).
Lajong now travel to Goa to face Salgaocar, who are also fighting to avoid relegation, in the final round.