Naojangud Shivananju Manju found the nets in the dying moments to help Mohun Bagan register 2-1 victory over defending champion Dempo and keep their title hopes alive in the ONGC I-League football.
In the floodlit match at Vidyasagar Krirangan in Barasat on Sunday, both the teams were locked 1-1 during the second-half, before Manju scored in the fourth minute of the injury time to help Mohun Bagan snatch full points and join Churchill Brothers on top of the tally with 43 points each.
Mohun Bagan drew first blood through Barreto in 28th minute, while Ranty Martins equalised for Dempo in 55th minute to bring the match on an even keel.
Locked 1-1, both sides failed to score during stipulated 45 minutes of the second-half.
But an alert Manju utilised a Barreto cross to the maximum as he headed the ball into the Dempo net.
Mohun Bagan enjoyed a better ball position during the proceedings and almost scored their second in the first-half but a dubious decision of referee Rizwan ul-Haq, who declared a foul against Bhaichung Bhutia in the 34th minute, disallowed a goal.
During the dramatic match, Mohun Bagan captain Bhutia received a yellow card when he was attempting to score in the 26th minute from a Marcos Pereira freekick. But the Indian captain was found guilty of handling the ball inside the box.
But Karim Bencherifa's boys did not have to wait much longer as the Brazillian duo of Marcos and Baretto put the team ahead two minutes later.
A cross from Marcos had Baretto unmarked inside the box and a clinical right-footer from the right found the back of the net as Dempo custodian Abhijit Mondal was taken by surprise.
Bhaichung found the net from a Marcos freekick as the captain headed it to perfection. But all his effort went in vain as Rizwan ruled out the goal for fouling defender Mahesh Gawli.
However, from the TV replays it seemed that Bhaichung pushed Gawli after scoring the goal.
The start of second half was delayed by eight minutes as Dempo complained of less security for their players.
The second-half yielded the equaliser for Dempo who scored 10 minutes after the changeover. An Anthony Pereira cross from the right flank found Ranty unmarked as the ace striker headed it to make it 1-1.
Desperate for a win, Bencherifa's boys pushed harder but luck eluded them.
Dempo goalkeeper Abhijit stood like a wall, thwarting several attempt from the home team.
In the 65th minute, a great through-in off Lal Kamal Bhowmick found Barreto, who turned to shoot but a quality save from Abhijit saw the stalemate remaining.
Lack of co-ordination between the mid-field and forward line gave Bencherifa more anxious moments as the 90 minutes ended with the referee signalling four minutes of injury time.
In the eventful injury time, Barreto missed another with Abhijit again coming in the path, while substitute Bagan mid-fielder Rakesh Masih's header went over the bar.
However, Mohun Bagan had the last laugh, thanks to Manju who surged in to head the Barreto's cross from the left as the home crowd went berserk.
Celebration erupted with Manju waving his jersey while coach Bencherifa too joined the celebration in the middle of the ground.
The title will be decided on April 16 when Mohun Bagan take on Mahindra United in Delhi and Churchill Brothers face Mohammedan Sporting in a home match in Goa.
Both teams have 43 points with the Goan outfit having an advantage through better goal difference.