Former champions Dempo suffered a shock 1-2 defeat at the hands of Pune FC in the first upset of the Federation Cup football tournament in Guwahati on Monday.
The beleaguered Dempo, who have been fined Rs 5 lakh by the AIFF for disobeying its directive, took the lead through Clifford Miranda (75th) but the Pune side struck twice soon after with Arata Izumi (77th) and Edmar Figueira (87th) finding the target in a closely-contested Group D match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Dempo coach Armando Colaco could rue a goal by striker Sunil Chhetri disallowed in the 72nd minute but the Goan side, who have several India players and top foreign recruits were kept at bay by the Pune side throughout the game.
Some of their top stars including India players Sunil Chhetri and Climax Lawrence, and Nigerian striker Ranti Martins were below par, while Brazillian playmaker Roberto Mendid da Silva was substituted in the 25th minute apparently due to injury.
The Goan side considered one of the favourites to win will now find it difficult to qualify for the semi-finals. They play Shillong Lajong on Thursday and Air India on Sunday.
On the other hand, Pune FC, who made their debut in the I-League this season, would be proud of themselves to run away with full three points against a top opponent. Both sides started on an even keel and it was Pune FC who had the first real chance but a shot by Jeje Lalpeklua, the
India Under-23 star, was deflected by a Dempo defender for a corner in the 12th minute.
Pune nearly conceded the lead in the 32nd minute but for Godwin Franco's goal-line save of a header by Peter Carvalho, who came in for Roberto Mendis.
After the barren first half, Dempo were the more attacking side while Pune FC relied mainly on counter attacks.
The last 15 minutes saw three goals with Dempo drawing the first blood in the 75th minute through Clifford Miranda who chested down a Valeriano Rebello cross from the right and tapped the ball home past a diving Subrata Paul.
It took just two minutes more for Pune FC to restore parity, with their Japanese import Arata firing in a powerful shot from 25 yards into the Dempo goal.
Dempo conceded the winner three minutes from time in the most uncharacteristic fashion following a mix up in their defence.
A cross from the right caused havoc in the Dempo box as central defender Anwar Ali tried to clear it with a header, but goalkepeer Tyson Caiado came from behind to collect the ball.
The goalkeeper spilled the ball, which ricocheted off Anwar's back and the loose ball is poked home by an onrushing Edmar.
Salgaocar beat JCT
Salgaocar held on to an early goal by their Guinean import Mandjou Keita to beat JCT by a solitary goal in their opening match of the Federation Cup in Silchar.
Keita scored the all-important goal in the 14th minute to give the Goan side full three points in a Group A match at the Satindra Mohan Dev Memorial Stadium here.
JCT were caught off guard early into the match and Manjit Singh's precise free kick from the top of the box found Keita heading in to put his team in front.
Jolted by the early goal, the Punjab side played attacking football all through the match but failed to get the equaliser.
The closest they came to restore parity was in the 34th minute when Ikechukwu Penn Orji's right-footed free-kick after Balwant Singh was brought down by a defender was brilliantly clawed away for a corner by Salgaocar goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey.
JCT will play their second group match against Viva Kerala on Thursday while Salgaocar face East Bengal on the same day.