Joachim Abranches saved Dempo Sports Club’s blushes as his late winner helped the defending champions score a 1-0 victory over bottom-placed Air India in a seventh round I-League encounter at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Saturday.
Air India appeared to take Dempo by surprise after the teams were locked goalless till the final minute, but the India striker had other plans as he struck in the final minute to hand his team full points.
Dempo coach Armando Colaco sprang a major surprise by dropping regular goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury and starting with young Tyson Caiado. Godwin Franco was a straightforward replacement for the suspended Climax Lawrence.
Dempo were not at their usual best and took time to test the rival citadel. Ryuji Sueoka and Clifford Miranda were offered chances but neither of them took it.
For Air India, Junior Elijah and Henry Ezez came close but could not get the better of Caiado under the Dempo bar.
In the second session, Dempo pressed hard. Joaquim Abranches could have scored but only ended heading wide Samir Naik’s cross. Rohan Ricketts then found Romeo Fernandes with a delightful ball but the goalkeeper proved equal to the task.
Dempo survived a scare in the 71st minute when Micky Fernandes decided to test the goalkeeper with a long ranger. Micky didn’t succeed but the goalkeeper was forced to avert the danger with his second attempt.
Just when it seemed as if the teams would share the spoils, Abranches struck the only goal of the match. Sueoka crossed from the right which found Romeo at the far post. The junior India midfielder picked up Abranches who sealed full points with a gentle tap.