Dempo Sports Club of Goa extended its supremacy in Indian football picking up its third I-League title in six seasons on Friday.
Dempo held the other title aspirant, Kolkata's East Bengal, to a goalless draw in the rescheduled 23rd encounter at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda to ensure its invincibility in the current league standings.
Dempo's achievement is even more special as it claimed the crown with a match still to go. Dempo tallies 54 points from 25 outings, which is beyond the reach of any of the clubs in contention.
It plays the last match against Kolkata's Prayag United SC at the Salt Lake Stadium on May 5, where it will formally receive the champion's trophy. East Bengal, which has two more matches to play, will fight for the second position with 45 points from 24 matches.
Needing a win to stay in the title hunt, East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan deployed the best of his arsenal in an overtly offensive formation. It created numerous scoring opportunities but could not find the net with none of its three attackers — Australian Tolgay Ozbey, Robin Singh and Brazilian Edmilson Marques — getting the right finish.
East Bengal's best chance came at the half-hour mark when Edmilson, receiving a miscued pass from opponent goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, hit the post in sheer haste.
Tolgay also failed to give the finishing touches to several opportunities keeping East Bengal in desperate hunt for the lead.
Dempo shut the doors on the visitor in the second half and successfully preserved the barren scoreline to its advantage.
Dempo — the I-League champion in 2007-08, 2009-10 — thereby completed the sequence of picking up the title in alternate seasons. Dempo, which won the National Football League (the previous name of I-League) in 2004-5 and 2006-7, now has an overall tally of unparalleled five titles.