Sporting Clube De Goa's title aspirations today received a jolt as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Kolkata giants East Bengal in the 19th round of the ONGC-I-League match at Nehru Stadium on Sunday.
The hosts, whose intentions were to collect full points, went on the offensive early on with their strikers and midfield combining together to push the opponent into their own half with a series of moves.
So pronounced was Sporting's attack that it could have easily settled the issue in the first half itself but for the heroic effort from goalkeeper Abhra Mondal, who made at least half a dozen saves.
Luck also did not favour Sporting as a 40-yards shot from Nathniel Amos, who combined well with Junior Obagbemiro, hit the crossbar.
The visitors made their only move in the first half and succeeded in finding the net in the 41st minute through substitute Ishmael Addo, who replaced Suley Musah midway in the first half. \
Yakubu from the middle took a shot at the goal which deflected a rival defender and came to Addo, who took a couple of rival defenders in his stride and on entering the box uncorked a rasping drive that found the roof of the net to have East Bengal leading 1-0 at half time.
The hosts continued to dictate terms in the second half putting East Bengal's defense under tremendous pressure but once again it was keeper Mondal, who came to his side's rescue by preventing Joseph Pereira and Amos from finding the equalizer.
Sporting's persistent efforts finally bore fruit in the 64th minute when Joseph Pereira found the net from close range after a one-to-one move between him and man of the match Junior Obagbemiro.
The draw puts Sporting Clube De Goa and Churchill Bros on par with 39 points each. However, Churchill who beat Mumbai Sports Club and have a better goal difference, move on top of the table displacing Sporting Clube De Goa.
Meanwhile, East Bengal remained on seventh place with 24 points from 19 matches.
Referee Pratap Singh showed yellow card to East Bengal's Addo, Syed Rahim Nabi and Soumik Dey.