Kolkata: Salgaoncar retained their position at top by demolishing a depleted Chirag United 4-1 in 15th outing of the I-League championship at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Sunday.
Ekene scored a brace, Yakubu and Francis Fernandes netted one goal apiece for the visitors while Elija Junior reduced the margin for Chirag.
Chirag began in style forging ahead in the fourth minute but turned into a ten-men side when their livewire in midfield Denson Devadas was red-carded in the 12th minute due to a double booking for rough tackling.
The departure of Denson made the Kolkata side rudderless and they succumbed to pressure by Salgaoncar and conceded four goals.
With this victory, Salgaoncar now have 34 points from 15 matches while Chirag remained at the 8th spot in the 16-team league.
Chirag took the lead as early as in the fourth minute when their striker Elija Junior found the target capitalizing on a pass from Joshimar.
As the visitors were trying to find their rhythm after conceding an early goal, Chirag’s Devadas unlawfully tackled Salgaoncar’s Japanese striker Ryuji Seuoka in the 12th minute.
Referee Pratap Singh from Uttarakhand gave him the marching order as he was earlier shown a yellow card for the same offence against the same player in the third minute.
Having numerical advantage, Salgaoncar unleashed a series of raids with striker Yakubu and medio Rocus Lamare scheming most of the moves.
They drew level through Yakubu who beat Chirag keeper Somnath Khanra with a neat placing off Gilberto Oliviera in the 19th minute.
Chirag defence which then managed to keep the rivals at bay from scoring further till the middle of the second half, broke down in the 65th minute when Francis Fernandes put the Goanese side into the lead following a flag kick.
Salgaoncar then struck twice more through Ekene in the 72nd and two minutes before the long whistle to complete the tally.