Margao: Dempo SC came from behind to beat Prayag United 3-1 in an exciting 10th round match of the I-League here on Saturday.
Both the teams were tied 1-1 at half time after Ryuji Sueoka(36th) cancelled Ranti Martins 21st minute strike at Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.
Dempo, who wasted a penalty in the second half, roared and scored two goals through Peter Carvalho(76th) and Climax Lawerence(78th) to end the visitors challenge.
The win takes Dempo`s tally to 25 points from 10 matches, four points clear of East Bengal which has played one match less and will be playing tomorrow against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan.
Prayag United, who wanted to bounce back to winning ways after suffering two consecutive defeats, started earnestly and had two opening chances but Ranty Martins efforts fell wide off the target.
After a brief midfield battle, it was Dempo who had the opportunity to take the lead in the 16th minute but Rohan Ricketts` shot deflected off rival defender Dhanachandra Singh.
After this close shave, Prayag United made a counter move which resulted in a goal in the 21st minute.
Defender Gourmangi Singh picked striker Ranty Martins into the box with a long ball but the wily striker, who was sandwiched between defender Sameer Naik and Rowlison, managed to tap the ball into the net.
With Prayag doing the attacking, Dempo made their first change bringing in Joaquim Abranches in place of Romeo Fernandes and scored the equaliser in the 36th minute.
Clifford Miranda, from the right, floated the ball into the box off a free kick to Ryuji Sueoka who got the better of his marker and headed the ball into the net to level the scores.
Both the teams continued to challenge each other for the ball after the break and Dempo had a good chance to take the lead after they were awarded a penalty in the 54th minute when defender Bello Rasaq brought down Ryuji Sueoka inside the box.
Rasaq himself took the penalty but failed to beat goalkeeper Subrato Paul who dived to his left and put the ball out with his outstretched leg.
Few minutes later, Peter Carvalho wasted a golden opportunity to put his team ahead when he drove the ball out of handshaking distance off a pass from Sueoka which came to him via Abranches` cross from the right.
Prayag suddenly looked threatening as they held the midfield domination and Carlos Henderez`s two long attempts at the goal were saved by Dempo keeper Chowdhury.
Dempo, who were good on counter attacks, took the lead in the 76th minute.
Peter Carvalho played a one-two pass to Rohan Ricketts who relayed back to Carvalho. The latter controlled the ball and beat rival keeper with a low shot to find the back of the net.
Climax Lawrence than made the issue safe for the defending champions when he raced into the box and beat onrushing keeper Subrata Paul to place the ball into the far corner of the net and end the visitors challenge.