Man of the match Beevan D’Mello shone in the Blues’ victory over the Port Towners.
Vasco had a poor pre-season as they lost to Sporting Clube de Goa and Gokulam FC in the AWES Cup by a margin of five goals. However, they managed to hold Sporting to a goalless draw and also defeated Corps of Signals in their last friendly match. On the other hand, Dempo were high on confidence after winning the AWES Cup final against Gokulam.
Dempo coach Samir Naik was forced to make some changes to his side as Nickson Castanha was unavailable because he was banned by the Goa Football Association for playing in an unregistered tournament. Another Dempo player, Joaquim Abranches was banned by the association for the same reason, creating hurdles for the head coach to select his final XI. Latesh Mandrekar and Desmon Pereira were back in the lineup for Dempo. Vasco coach Eban Mesquita also made few changes to his side as Micky Fernandes made his debut for Vasco. Whereas, Clive Coelho, Anil Gaonkar and Treyson D’Costa were back in the starting XI for Vasco.
There were no significant moments in the first few minutes, but it was Dempo who created the first chance of the match when Mandrekar found Beevan D’Mello in the box but his flick deflected off Vasco defender Treyson D’Costa and went out for a corner.
On the other side, Vasco stunned their opponents with an early goal. In the buildup to their goal, Clive Coelho made a drifting run, successfully taking on Dempo right-back Mario Mascarenhas and a diagonal pass found Benesten Barreto in the box, who found the net through an easy tap-in and got his side ahead.
Even after conceding an early goal, the Golden Eagles did not seem serious and did not look determined to equalise as their dull style of play continued over for the next 20 minutes. However, Dempo had a chance to equalise in the 37th minute when Beevan’s corner landed at Desmon’s feet but he failed to control his shot from inside the box.
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Dempo coach Naik made a double substitution in the final quarter of the session as he brought in Jason Vaz and Kapil Hoble replacing Latesh and Desmon. Kapil quickly settled after coming in as he created a couple of chances in the last few minutes. In one of these, Kapil got past a defender and sent a low cross to Yogesh Kadam in the box but the midfielder’s tap rebounded off the goalpost as the home side went into the breather with a goal behind.
On crossing over, Dempo came out stronger and created a couple of chances. Within the first 10 minutes, a header effort by Yogesh from close range went in vain as the ball was easily collected by Vasco keeper Suresh Lamani.
Finally in the 58th minute, the Golden Eagles equalised through Mario as he brilliantly curled in the ball from a 20-yard free-kick which directly found the net in levelling the score for the Panjim based club.
A minute later, the Port Towners came up with a counter attacking move and almost took the lead again but Dempo keeper Agnelo Gomes pulled out a brilliant save to deny Shubert from scoring.In their next attacking move, Beneston shot wide from inside the box.
A few minutes after the hour mark, Vasco took the lead again when Micky’s powerful free-kick from some distance was nicely headed in by Minesh to make it 2-1 for the Port Towners.
Dempo tried to dominate in the last quarter of the match with continued attacks on their opponents and finally found their deserved equaliser in added time as Beevan D’Mello stretched to his fullest to send the ball in from close range. Jaison was the architect of the goal with a perfect cross from the wing.
When it was looking like the match will end 2-2, Vasco’s Treyson brought down Jaison in the danger box to give away a penalty to the opponent. Beevan stepped forward and made no mistake from the spot to ensure all three points for the Golden Eagles.