Margao, Dec 18: Air India struck twice in the second half to hand out Dempo their third successive defeat as the hosts lost 2-0 in the 10th round I-League match at the Nehru Stadium here today.
The visitors scored through substitute Manandeep Singh (70th) and Collin Abranches (82nd) to take the fight away from Dempo.
Seeking a win to regain their top spot, Dempo started on a confident note as they held ball possession for most part of the match and created ample scoring chances but were let down by their strikers who failed to cash on.
Air India keeper Pawan Kumar was also at his best as he made couple of good saves to deny Dempo a win.
The hosts defense put up a stiff resistance with defender Pratik Chaudhari and Man of the Match Lamine Tamba doing well to keep Ranty Martins and Koko Sakibo at bay.
Dempo's first clear chance came in the 12th minute when a quick build up in the middle saw Peter Carvalho put a through pass to Koko who beat keeper Pawan Kumar with deft placement only to see ball struck the bottom of the post.
Three minutes later Koko had a chance to score again but he failed to cash in the opportunity off a cross from Sameer Naik from the right.
Dempo kept on the pressure and Koko got a third opportunity but goalkeeper Pawan's made a diving effort to collect the ball off a Clifford Miranda cross.
Crossing over, Dempo maintained their superiority over their rivals as they held ball possession and Clifford Miranda had a good chance to take the lead but he headed out.
Just when Dempo was pressing for a goal, Air India came with a counter move and were awarded a throw in which found substitute Manandeep Singh clear inside the box.
Manandeep controlled the ball and took a snap shot that surprised Dempo's keeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury to find the net in the 70th minute.
The goal spurred Air India and the visitors again came with a counter move in the 82nd minute as Sandesh Gadkari from the right sent a cross to defender Collin Abrances who moved up, took a 25-yards shot that found the net and sealed Dempo's fate.
With their third defeat in as many matches, Dempo find themselves in the second place with 21 points from 10 matches, two points behind table toppers Churchill Brothers.
Air India moved to sixth position with 16 points from 10 matches.