Mumbai, Jan 19 (UNI) Mahindra United today brought the high-flying I League leaders Dempo Sports Club down to earth with a stunning 3-1 victory in the 12th round I League match at the Cooperage stadium here today.
With their fourth win, Mahindras have moved up to 17 points and share fourth spot with Mohun Bagan (same points and same goal difference) although they are 10 points behind the defending champions Dempo who remain stuck on 27 after crashing to their first defeat. Today's denouement, however, infuses life back into the championship race with JCT and Churchill Brothers now snipping closely at Dempo's heels.
The local outfit, who were deserving victors on the day, unveiled one of their best shows this season, getting their goals through medio Sukhwinder Singh (19th minute), striker Andrews Mensah Pomeyie (32nd minute) and playmaker and man-of-the-match Douhou Pierre (56th minute).
Mensah's strike was a classic acrobatic volley while meeting a cross from the right wing by Sushant Mathew. The Ghanaian could have netted a brace but he headed wide a superb Stephen Dias cross in the 24th minute with the entire goal at his mercy.
Mensah, however, made amends by threading a lovely through ball for Pierre, who beat a tentative Abhijit Mondal with a curling shot in the second session.
Dempo were woeful today and coach Armando Colaco admitted that this was their worst showing in the ongoing competition. The visitors were lucky to get a consolation goal through a Ranty Martins' header in the 90th minute.
They were incidentally held to a 1-1 tie by the Mumbai squad in the first leg.
Perhaps, the Goan's listlessness was due to the fact that their playmaker, Beto, after recovering from a viral infection, had an off day. As a result, Dempo's throbbing midfield was generally in sleeping mode, with their Nigerian duo upfront too were off colour.
Their normally reliable defense too was prone to the occasional error and they ultimately paid the price with Mahindras capitalising on their mistakes.
On the other hand, Mahindra orchestrated some lovely attacks with Pierre and international Dias lending sparkle to the intermediate line. For a change, the jeepmen's defence, in which debutante Sunil Kumar had a fine outing in the crucial stopper back position, held firm, while Sandeep Nandy was his usual efficient self under the bar.
Mahindras will now take on Viva Kerala away in the 13th round on January 24, while Vasco travel to Kolkata for a match up against East Bengal on January 27.
UNI GS SSS SM LS RK2105