Margao: Salgaocar made a poor start to their title-defence going down 0-1 to arch-rivals Dempo in the opening game of I-League football at the Nehru Stadium here Saturday.
Dempo struck through Nigerian Ranti Martins in the second half to pick up three points from the match.
Martins scored in the 80th minute after a through ball from Joaquim Abranches and slot it past Karanjit Singh to spark the celebrations among Demp fans.
Salgaocar played with their Japanese striker Ryuiji Sueoka in a suppurting role behind Chidi Edeh and lacked the penetrating power. Their latest recruit Ishfaq Ahmed, former Mohun Bagan captain was disappointing while Chidi Edeh failed to get into the thick of the things.
Dempo got the only chance to move ahead in the first half, but Joaquim Abranches failed to slot it in after being set up by a curling cross from Anthony Pereira in the 38th minute.
Salgaocar coach Karim Bencherifa replaced Gilbert Oliviera by Francis Fernandes but things didn`t improve for the champions as they failed to keep posession of the ball.
The game was moving towards a draw but Abranches found Ranti in space and the striker made no mistake with only the goalkeeper to beat.