Mapusa: Substitutes Peter Carvalho and Koko Sakibo scored late in the second half to help Dempo hold Mumbai FC to a 2-2 draw in the 19th round of the I-League, played at Duler stadium, Mapusa, here on Saturday.
Mumbai FC, who looked better of the two sides scored a goal in each half through Evans Quao(40th) and N D Opara(67th) and appeared all set to win before two late goals from substitutes Peter Carvalho (83rd) and Koko Sakibo(89) helped Dempo save from the jaws of defeat.
With Saturday's draw, Dempo takes their points tally to 35 from 18 matches, four points adrift from East Bengal who moved at the top of the table with 39 points displacing Churchill Brothers to second place. Mumbai now have 26 points from 18 matches.
Dempo, who knew that they could not afford to drop points further if they were to defend the title, started positively and even found the net early in the 9th minute through Joaquim Abranches header but was ruled off-side by the referee. The Goan side then committed many errors which allowed the visitors to take control in the midfield as the match wore on and came close to score on few occasions but Opara and Gabriel shots went wide off the target.
However, their persistent moves paid dividend as they took the lead in the 40th minute when Nicholas Rodrigues free-kick from the right hit the bar and the ball fell on the path of Evans Quao who shot home to have Mumbai FC leading 1-0 at half time.
Dempo looked far from impressive in the second half as well and allowed the Mumbai side to dictate terms. Dempo keeper Chowdhury averted danger when he blocked a fierce shot from Gabriel Fernandes but their citadel eventually fell in the 67th minute when N D Opara who was free on the left essayed a firm 35-yards shot that beat the keeper and found the far corner of the net.
Down by two goals, Dempo coach Armando made two changes bringing in Peter Carvalho and Koko Sakibo and the move paid off as the former reduced the margin in the 83rd minute when he found the net off a cross from Anthony Pereira. Three minutes later, Mumbai FC were reduced to ten men after James Singh received his second yellow card and Dempo took advantage of the situation and managed the equaliser through substitute Koko Sakibo who found the net off Clifford Miranda cross to save his team from defeat.