Three goals and three red cards besides a couple of yellows marked a fairly exciting 16th round I-League clash as Sporting Clube de Goa downed Mumbai FC 2-1 at the Cooperage on Sunday to zoom to the top of the table back again.
In another match, played later in the eveing in Kolkata, a fine brace by Syed Rahim Nabi earned East Bengal a 3-0 victory over Mohun Bagan.
The 'flaming orange' is on 34 points while promoted Mumbai FC remain on 23 points but drop to fifth position behind Dempo, who have the same points tally but a better goal difference.
Sporting skipper and man of the match Wilton Gomes led from the front with an assist and a goal. First, his precise aerial pass across the field from his right back position released Joseph Pereira on the left flank and the diminutive medio essayed a thunderous volley to beat Kalyan Chaubey all ends up in the 7th minute. Then Gomes, who had moved to the position of a defensive midfielder darted through to turn in a Chinta Chandrasekhar free kick past an onrushing Chaubey in the 77th minute taking full advantage of a defensive lapse by Selwyn Fernandes.
Mumbai FC reduced the margin in the 80th minute through an Alex Ambrose penalty after the substitute accidentally had his feet clipped by Mathew Gonsalves at the edge of the box.
Ten minutes earlier referee T Pradeep Kumar (Tamil Nadu) had to turn on the red signal to eject Sporting striker Elijah Jr and Mumbai FC stopper back James Dissiramah after they got into a retaliatory tangle. An unsettled Selwyn then saw red as he made an ugly lunge at Gomes in the 82nd minute.
There were quite a few exciting moments in the match which however was not high on quality. The Goans, now coached by Clifford Chukwuma, could have won by a bigger margin but Nathaniel Amos fired wide with only the goalkeeper to beat in added on time after scrambling the ball passed the fumbling local defence. But as title contenders who have topped the I-League for the most part of the current tournament, they did not quite have the champion look for the most part.
On the other hand, the lack of consistency and finesse on the part of David Booth's wards came to the fore yet again as they slid to their second consecutive defeat. Abel Hammond tried hard to reverse the verdict but he lacked the requisite support upfront from his Ghanaian colleague Felix Aboagye. The Mumbai midfield too could not seize the home advantage and impose their writ on the game.
Sporting had a lucky escape when their goalkeeper Felix D'Souza saved what would have been a self-goal early in the second session.