Two second half strikes by Ranty Martins enabled Dempo to beat Mahindra United 3-2 in the ONGC I-League, played at Nehru Stadium in Margao on Monday.
Mahindra United jolted Dempo with an early strike, even before the visitors could settle down.
Dempo central defender John Dias failed to pick up Steven Dias' cross from the right and Izumi Arata, who was lurking inside the box along with Sushil Kumar Singh, slammed the ball into the net in the 24th second of the match.
Arata had the chance to increase the lead eight minutes latter but he directed his shot off target after getting the better of Dias.
Dempo took time to settle down from the early setback and found their rhythm midway into the first half with Clifford Miranda muffing two close chances to draw level.
First Peter Carvalho from the right sent a cross into the box for Miranda who chested the ball but in haste ballooned the ball over the bar in the 23rd minute. Four minutes later he again failed to beat rival keeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury as he drove the ball straight at him off Martins' pass.
However, Dempo's persistent effort bore fruit in first half stoppage time when a combined move between Roberto Mendes Silva and Anthony Pereira saw the former slam the ball into the back of the net with a deft placement.
Dempo continued to dictate terms after change of ends and took the lead in the 46th minute.
Carvalho's pass from the right was collected by Martins who beat a defender and advancing keeper before finding the net.
Dempo could have increased the lead three minutes later but Miranda saw his shot crash into the woodwork.
Roberto, who was the driving force upfront along with Martins, got good support from behind as they raided the rival half time and again.
Mahindra United coach Derrick Pereira made three changes bringing in K Ajayan, Mohammed Rafi and Sunil Kumar in place of N P Pradeep, Izumi and Justine Stephen to bring more stability in the midfield which looked sluggish.
The move paid dividends as Mahindra United equalised in the 66th minute.
Rafi squared to Edeh Chidi from the left who in turn relayed the ball to Sushil who beat a defender and found the far end of the net.
Dempo, who held more of the ball possession towards the last quarter of the match, scored the winner in the 88th minute from a free-kick.
Sunil handled the ball outside the top box and Martins beat keeper Chowdhury to the far corner.
The win took Dempo to 26 points from 18 matches while Mahindra United remained on 27 from 20 matches.
Referee Rizwan-ul-Haq showed yellow card to Mahindra United's Dharmaraj Ravanan.