Margao, Oct 22: Dempo SC edged past defending champions Salgaocar 1-0 to open their I-League campaign on a winning note at the Nehru stadium, Fatorda, here today.
The all-important goal was scored in the 80th minute by Ranty Martins.
The win is a shot in the arm for coach Armando Colaco whose team had not got the right start in the season, losing to East Bengal in the Federation Cup.
Dempo started well and had the first chance in the 13th minute but a Clifford Miranda try from inside the box went straight to keeper Karanjit Singh.
Minute later, Salgaocar's Keeper Karanjit Singh came to his side's rescue when he brought off a diving to punch the ball away from Climax Lawrence off a pass from Ranty.
Clifford Miranda, who was the driving force on the flank, kept the rival defence on their toes even as Dempo forced three successive corners but to no avail.
Dempo had another opportunity in the dying minutes of the first half to take the lead but Joaquim Abranches failed to direct his shot on target after a move between Ranty and Anthony Pereira which saw the later sending a deep cross.
Salgaocar were not given any space to operate on the flanks.
But at the change of ends, Salgaocar made a couple of changes and had the early momentum and came close to scoring twice. First, an Edeh Chidi shot off substitute Francis Fernandes was palmed away to safety by rival keeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury in the 18th minute.
Few minutes later an Isfaq Ahmed try went straight into the hands of the keeper Roy.
With both teams looking to settle for a draw, a sudden lack of concentration on the part of the Salgaocar midfield allowed Joaquim Abranches to lay a through pass to Ranty, keeping the rival defence napping.
Ranty sent a firm ground shot to beat Karanjit.
Dempo's coach Armando was delighted. “It's a welcome win as it will raise the confidence of the boys, especially after their disappointing start to the season,” he said.
“Salgaocar also played well but could not raise the tempo due to the humid condition.”
Salgaocar's coach Karim Bencherifa said, “The boys played well, keeping the ball in the rival half, but somehow could not pierce the rival defence which was marshalled well by Mahesh Gawli (who earned the man of the match).”