Dempo open AFC Cup campaign with win

Pune: I-League champions Dempo Sports Club began their AFC Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Yemen`s Al Tilal here on Tuesday.

Dempo scored through Brazilian midfielder Roberto Mendes Silva (53rd) and Nigerian striker Ranti Martins Soleye (67th) while Al Tilal striker Tafese Tesfaye pulled one back in the 75th minute in Group A encounter.

Just two minutes into the game at Shiv Chhatrapathi Sports Complex, Mhalunge-Balewadi, the visitors threatened to surge ahead but an alert Dempo goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury made a fine save of an effort from Ruffin Motshumba.

Dempo took time to settle down and once they did that, the Goan side were clearly the better side in the opening session.

Dempo, who were playing here as their home ground in Goa does not have floodlight facilities, had Ranti Martin`s go close in the 14th minute. Running well to a Peter Carvalho`s feed from the right flank, Ranti caught the Al Tilal defence unaware.

A right-footed attempt from inside the box was, however, blocked by defender Al-Khamri. The game thereafter settled into midfield play and both teams did not have any clear chances.

On resumption, Dempo took eight minutes to go one up as Beto scored a gem of a goal. Defender Samir Naik, moving into Al Tilal`s half on the right, sent in a long cross and Mendes connected it powerfully past goalkeeper Farag Mabrook into the

Dempo grew in confidence and they doubled the lead in the 75th minute when Ranti capitalised on a defensive lapse by Al Tilal mid-fielder Amr Najib Farag.

Ranti intercepted the Al Tilal medio`s aimless pass sent from 30 yards out and finished past a helpless keeper.

Down 0-2, Al Tilal pulled one back nine minutes later when striker Tafese Tesfaye Sege ran well to receive Lami Itana Geleta`s quick exchange to beat a hesitant Mahesh Gawli, who called for off-side, before sending the ball past a hapless Dempo custodian.