GOA: Dempo SC took the final match of the Second Division League 2015-16 against Minerva Academy FC by the scruff of the neck owing to the first-half brace by Milagres Gonsalves and a goal by Felix Chidi. Following this stupendous win today, the Goan outfit cemented the coveted berth in the Hero I-League 2016-17.
Dempo SC started all guns blazing in front of the top brass of the club's management and they needed only 9 minutes to get their nose in front when Milagres Gonsalves headed a long ball unleashed by Mandar Rao Desai from the top of the box. 4 minutes later, Felix Chidi doubled the lead following a scintillating solo run, leaving the opponent defenders aghast.
Following the back-to-back strikes by Dempo SC, Minerva Academy FC players were left completely clueless and in the 15th minute, they made their first positive attack from the left flank. 3 minutes later, Mandar Rao Desai sneaked past Kamalpreet Singh from the left flank but his over-ambitious effort went abegging.
Manvir Singh and Sajandeep Singh tried their best to penetrate the Dempo SC defence but the tame effort from the top of the box was easily collected by Laxmikant Kattimani.
Just after the half-hour mark, Felix Chidi ran past Amandeep Singh and released a loopy ball, which was converted by Milagres Gonsalves with much ease to send the Dempo SC dugout in a delirium.
Dempo SC, who were enjoying the lion's share of ball possession, were very close to scoring their fourth goal at the stroke of the first half but Mandar's grounded shot missed the net by a whisker.
On the resumption, Surinder Singh introduced Nitesh Chhikara at the expense of Kamalpreet Singh to shape up the defence. Nitesh combined well with Sehijpal Singh from the right but his long ball was snatched by the safe hands of Kattimani.
With time waning, Dempo SC pressed hard to maintain the lead. Surinder Singh left no stone unturned to make a dramatic come back into the match. Krishna Pandit and Dilliram Sanyasi were deployed to instill more vigour in the attacking third but they could hardly leave any impression today.
Manvir Singh came very close to opening the goal mouth for the visitors in the 76th minute but his powerful header sailed wide of the woodwork. 2 minutes later, Simranjeet Singh hammered it from 25-yards but it missed the target by a few yards.
With 8 minutes to the final whistle, Felix Chidi almost completed his brace but Arshdeep Singh threw himself to thwart the Nigerian from increasing the gap further. In the 86th minute, Minerva Academy FC had their share of joy when Amandeep Singh found the back of the net from the top of the box, thanks to a heavy deflection by Shallum Pires.
Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League, who presented the champions trophy to Dempo SC congratulated the team on their success, "Dempo SC are one of the leading sides of Indian Football and it's good to see them back in Hero I-League."