Defending champion Dempo fired a late equaliser to stun East Bengal 1-1 in a fourth round encounter of the I-League here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday.
East Bengal, which dominated the greater part of the action, missed several scoring opportunities as Dempo made a late charge with the equaliser.
Nigerian striker Edeh Chidi fetched East Bengal the lead off a 32nd minute penalty, before Peter Carvalho scored Dempo’s equaliser from an 81st minute corner.
East Bengal, which won the Federation Cup in September beating Dempo in the final, ruled the proceedings with an overtly offensive strategy. Dempo played safe initially and got eight of its men to defend on occasions as East Bengal sought the goal route regularly.
After its forwards — Chidi and Manandeep Singh — had each missed a chance from close, East Bengal earned a penalty in the 29th minute when Mahesh Gawli, the mainstay of the Dempo defence, brought down the former’s midfielder Orji Penn. Chidi scored from the resultant penalty to give East Bengal the lead in the 32nd minute.
East Bengal earned at least three chances to double the lead in the second half, but both — Chidi and Manandeep’s replacement Robin Singh — missed the target from close. Dempo custodian Subhasish Roy Chowdhury saved the third attempt from Naoba Singh.
Dempo coach Armando Colaco made three late changes and saw his move paying off as Dempo midfielder Peter Carvalho nodded home a corner from substitute Joaquim Abranches.
Dempo continued to lead the standings with 10 points from four matches, while East Bengal tallied eight points from its four outings.