GOA: Sporting Clube de Goa continued their slow but steady progress with a solitary goal victory over Dempo Sports Club at Duler Stadium, Goa, on Saturday.
Boima Karpeh scored a 48th minute penalty to propel his side to the second spot with 21 points, the same as Pune FC, who take on Mumbai FC later in the day.
It was a tight and nervy contest but one that Sporting Clube always looked comfortable. With Spanish defender Gonzalo Neila in fine form at the back, and Arturo Garcia, his Spanish teammate playing just in front of him, Sporting had an assured look at the back.
Dempo were forced to start with just one foreign player, and even Brazilian midfielder Roberto Mendes da Silva had to be replaced because of inadequate form. Coach Mauricio Afonso, deputising for Arthur Papas who is away in Australia due to personal reasons, sent in Gabriel Fernandes for for the last half an hour, but nothing worked.
It were Dempo though who made the right moves at the start. Alwyn George’s header of a Clifford Miranda cornerkick sailed just wide when the match was just three minutes old, and Sporting Clube could try their luck only closer to the half an hour mark when Arturo’s header looked threatening but did not find the mark.
Dempo were building moves nicely and Holicharan Narzary tried to catch Dempo goalkeeper Ravi Kumar unware with a snap left-footer, but the Sporting goalkeeper was well positioned, and alert, to the danger. Dempo’s raids continued as a Beto freekick sailed wide and then Gonzalo had to put his experience to good use when Ravi got beaten but Beto’s intended cross for Alwyn was nipped just in time by the Spanish defender.
After a goalless first half, Sporting Clube took an unexpected lead after the change of ends.
Arturo showed good application of mind to take a quick throw-in that Pratesh Shirodkar collected and his resultant cross, quite unfortunately, hit Debabrata Roy, prompting the referee to point at the spot.
Boima Karpeh stepped up and although Dempo goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattymani had judged correctly, he could do nothing to stop Karpeh’s powerful strike.
Dempo looked suspect on the counter but despite Karpeh using his strength to muscle the defence, Sporting lacked the final touch in front of goal.
At the other end, Dempo never really threatened. Their sporadic attempts lacked firepower to trouble the rival goalkeeper.