| Douglas scored in vain
Margao: Durand Cup champions Salgaocar edged past East Bengal 2-1 at the Nehru Stadium here on Sunday to start their campaign in the National Football League on a bright note.
Salgaocar who dictated terms in the midfield scored through Felix Ibrebru (24th) and Micky Fernandes (29th).
East Bengal came back strongly in the second half and reduced the margin in the 38th minute through Douglas da Silva.
Durand hero Tomba Singh led the attack for Salgaocar and masterminded both goals.
The first came through when the Calcutta giants, missing Deepak Mondal and M. Suresh were beaten by a Tomba cross from the right. The ball deflected off a defender and fell in the path of unmarked Ibrebru who slammed it in.
The Goans increased the lead five minutes later when Fernandes met a Tomba cross with a flying header to find the far post.
The Salgaocar defence, particularly Bello Rasaq kept a close watch on Bhaichung Bhutia and did not allow the striker any space to operate. East Bengal, however, managed to reduce the margin through a Da Silva free kick, which came about after Ibrebru brought down the Brazilian on top of the box.
The hosts received a setback a few minutes before the interval. Tomba was injured and had to leave the field. Thus, East Bengal who lacked the thrust and urgency in the first half came back strongly in the second as they had more possession.
However, they met stiff resistance as they tried to find the equaliser.
With their defence also moving up, East Bengal nearly paid the price when Salgaocar forwards found the gap on two occasions but failed to convert.
East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick was disgusted with his teamís performance. ďItís the worst performance I have ever seen since I took over as coach. In the Durand Cup and Super Cup, although we lost the finals against Salgaocar and Mahindra, our team played on both occasions. We have wake up and play as a unit before it is late as we play our next match against Vasco,Ē Bhowmick said.
Dempo beat Mahindra
Dempo of Goa scored once in each half to beat Mahindra United 2-0 in Mumbai in their opening match on Sunday. Medio Sameer Naik opened the scoring with a 30-yard left-footer in the 27th minute. Clifford Miranda rounded off the tally towards the fag end of the match off an R. C. Prakash pass.