Ekene Ikenwa scored two goals as hosts Salgaocar defeated East Bengal 4-1 in the 18th round I-League match at the Nehru Stadium in Margao on Monday.
Salgaocar, who led 2-1 at half time, scored through Cajetan Fernandes (10th minute), Rouhollah Samienia (14th) and Ekene M Ikenwa (51st, 58th).
East Bengal, who are in danger of falling in the drop zone, fought back in both the halves but failed to score after creating handful of chances. However, the Kolkata side reduced the margin through Sanju Pradhan.
The win takes Salgaocar to 21 points from 18 matches, same as East Bengal, but the red and yellow brigade is behind the Goan side in the 11th spot because of inferior goal difference.
Both the teams played at fast pace which saw lot of goal mouth thrill.
Salgaocar settled to rhythm early in the match with the forwardline and midfield linking well to make inroads into the rival half.
The hosts scored two goals in a span of four minutes to put the pressure on their opponents.
Following a free kick after Mehrajuddin Wadoo brought down Ekene on the left, hardworking Francis Fernandes floated the ball into the box which was back headed by Cajetan Fernandes to find the back of the net in the 10th minute.
Four minutes later, Salgaocar was awarded another freekick again when Wadoo brought down Keita on the left.
Lestor Fernandes, who took the freekick, sent a low shot which was diverted into the net by Rouhollah Samienia with a glancing header.
The early goals were a wake up call for the visitors, who regrouped and took control of the midfield. East Bengal made a series of moves and after Beingaichoo Bekhokhei wasted a couple of chances, reduced the margin in the 27th minute.
Bekhokhei deceived the rival defence and laid a pass to Sanju Pradhan who controlled the ball before unleashing a rasping drive to find the far post.
East Bengal continued to put pressure in search of the equaliser but were denied by rival keeper Kalyan Chaubey who collected a backheel from Yakubu after Subhash Singh had done the spade work.
The visitors mounted pressure towards the end but Mehtab Hossain muffed an open sitter in the injury time of the first half as he drove the ball out from close to deny East Bengal the equaliser.
After the break, Salgaocar increased the lead in the 51st minute. Samienia from the left sent a long cross which Ekene Ikenwa headed into the net.
With pressure mounting, East Bengal created a couple of chances but Salgaocar keeper Chaubey stood well under the bar to deny Bekhokhei and Yakubu from scoring.
East Bengal defence left lot of gap as they moved up and Ekene punished them to score his second goal as he beat the rival goalkeeper with a low shot off a pass from Francis Fernandes.