Favourites had a bad day in the sixth round of the second division I-League at Shillong on Wednesday.
Leader Shillong Lajong FC, needing a victory to clinch one of the two berths in the elite I-League next season, lost to a resurgent Sporting Clube de Goa 1-3 and allowed the latter to be back in the reckoning.
United Sikkim FC, also requiring a victory to take a big step in qualifying, drew with Ar-Hima Club 2-2. Both Lajong and United Sikkim have left it till the last match on Saturday to decide who will be promoted.
The victory lifted Sporting Clube to the second spot behind Lajong with 11 points from six matches. Lajong continues to lead the table with 13 from six games.
Sporting Clube will play bottom-placed Royal Wahingdoh on Friday and a win will clinch it an I-League berth.
India captain Baichung Bhutia was forced to shift to the striking zone after United Sikkim went 0-2 down against Ar-Hima with goals coming from Stephanfiel Lanong in the 30th and 36th minutes.
A firm right-footer from Bhutia from the top of the box in the 63rd minute gave the team a new lease of life and substitute Rennedy Singh equalised in the 69th to keep United Sikkim in the fray.
The results: Ar-Hima 2 (Stephanfiel Lanong 30, 36) drew with United Sikkim 2 (Baichung Bhutia 63, Rennedy Singh 69); Sporting Clube 3 (Adil Khan 27, Freiman Peixoto 48, Eldon Maquemba 63) bt Shillong Lajong FC 1 (Lalhlimthara 71) . — Special Correspondent