Margao: Salgaocar FC scored a solitary goal win over Pune FC to emerge Durand Cup champions for the third time here on Saturday.
Salgaocar, who enjoyed better ball possession, scored the all important goal in the 21st minute through Thangjam Saran Singh at the Raia Panchayat ground.
Rocus Lamare played a through pass from the middle to Saran Singh who took couple of rival defenders in his stride and on entering the box uncorked a right footer that found the roof of the net which ultimately proved to be the winner.
Salgaocar had the first try at the opposition goal but Rocus Lamare miscued his shot that went wide off the target off a pass from Darryl Duffy. The Goan side again had the chance to increase the lead but Gilbert Oliveira directed his shot off the target.
Pune FC came close to scoring in the dying minutes of the first half but the home team keeper Karanjit Singh did well to tip the ball over the bar off a Prakash Thorat long shot.
The second half was mostly a midfield battle with the visitors trying hard to find the equaliser in the last quarter of the match but keeper Karanjit once again was alert to make a diving save off substitute Eric Brown. Later, Zhomingliana Ralte header also went out.
Salgaocar coach Derrick Pereira, who has won the trophy twice as a coach and once as a player, was happy for today's triumph.
"It is a special moment for me to win the trophy as a player and as a coach for Salgaocar. But today it is more important as we won it at home. I congratulate the players for the hard word they have put in during training and we have got the reward finally. Now we look to carry on the winning momentum in Federation Cup and the I-League," Pereira said.
Salgaocar have earlier won the title in 1999 and 2003.
The winners were richer by Rs 25 lakhs while Pune FC got Rs 15 lakhs. Bengaluru FC and Sporting Clube de Goa, both losing semifinalists, were awarded Rs 5 lakh each.
At the other end, Salgaocar winger Gilbert Oliveira had his try from inside the box on the right whiz past the far post. Lalrempuia replied with a crisp long ranger, but he too went inches wide.
Striker Shoaib went close in the dying minutes of the half but his clever outside of the boot shot from the edge of the box was tipped over by keeper Karanjit Singh.
The ensuing corner saw defender Salam Ranjan Singh get into a great position inside the box for the second ball, but his effort sailed over as Pune FC went 0-1 down into the breather.
The second half was a different story as Pune FC began to dominate more.
After some half chances at either end, Pune FC went extremely close in the 67th minute. Lalrempuia floated in a cross from the right to winger Bineesh Balan whose header was cleared. The clearance fell for skipper Arata Izumi whose effort from the loose ball went wide.
Restricting Salgaocar to counter attacks, Pune FC increased their pressure and ten minutes later almost pulled one back. Sueoka?s cut back from the left found substitute Eric Brown who drilled in a low effort. Arata, in the box, tried to put it into the goal with a clever touch only for the attempt to go wide.
Into the final ten minutes, Pune FC once again went agonisingly close. After Shoaib earned a foul outside the box on the right, Eric stepped up and curled in the freekick. The effort at the first post was palmed away by the keeper with a completely outstretched dive.
Pune FC continued to press, but with the home side defending deep, they failed to get a clear shot inside the box before Salgaocar closed in on the win.