| Anthony Fernandes who scored the winning goal
Calcutta: Air India staged a ferocious fight-back in the second half to surprise Goa’s Dempo SC 2-1 in the Tata Federation Cup at Salt Lake Stadium on Monday.
Jose Colaco put Dempo SC ahead by converting a penalty midway in the first half. However, as the sides were changed, the Mumbai team produced a brilliant comeback and killed their opponents’ hopes with goals from Vinay Kuruvilla and Anthony Fernandes in a span of four minutes.
In a double delight for Mumbai football, the win took Air India to a quarter final clash with city-mates Mahindra United, who beat Goa’s Haywards Sporting Club 1-0 in the day’s first match.
Armando Colaco’s team held a clear edge in the early stages of the match, with their attacking duo — R.C. Prakash and Alex Ambrose keeping the Air India defence under threat. They were ably supported by captain Lazarus Fernandes and Clifford Miranda down the flanks. The goal seemed to be on the cards and it finally came in the 22nd minute.
In a sweeping movement, Ambrose was fed with a ball from the left and the Dempo forward caught the Air India rearguard napping with a sudden burst into the box. Right back Santosh Koli had to intervene, tripping Ambrose from behind, giving the referee N. Mohan no other option but to point his finger towards the penalty spot. Colaco converted it without any trouble.
Not to be downed by the blow, Air India stuck to the basics, spreading their play more towards the wings, because of the terrible conditions of the ground, which resembled a pool of mud in the middle. Mohammed Rizwan and Uttam Singh blasted their shots from advantageous positions while Suprith Jathanna failed to keep his header on target from close.
These moves by Air India were the early warnings, which their rivals did not pay heed to as they surprisingly left the wings unmarked.
Air India came up with the equaliser four minutes into the second half. When the long throw-in from Singh landed into the box, there was confusion among the Dempo players in clearing the danger and Kuruvilla slotted home out of a melee.
Four minutes later, Satish Kumar made heavy weather of a low 30-yard long-ranger from Vijith Shetty. Fernandes chased the ball as it came out of the Dempo and former India goalkeeper’s hands and pushed in from close.
Air India: Raju Ekka; Santosh Koli (Naushad Moosa, 69), Vinay Kuruvilla, Shanta Singh, T. Khambiton Singh; Uttam Singh, Mohammed Rizwan, Vijith Shetty, Binoop M.K. (Paresh Shivalkar, 63); Anthony Fernandes, Suprith Jathanna (Abbas Ali Rizvi, 90).
Dempo SC: Satish Kumar; Sameer Naik, Stanley Colaco, Majeekodyn Bolagi, Raju Singh; Lazarus Fernandes, Mario Soares (Wilton Gomes, 46), Jose Colaco, Clifford Miranda (Desmond Fernandes, 85); R.C. Prakash, Alex Ambrose (Francis Silveira, 69). Referee: N. Mohan (SSCB).