Salgaocar defeated JCT Mills 2-0 in Ludhiana on Monday to secure their first I-League title since 1999.
The Goan giants needed just a point from the final match to stave off the challenge of Dempo, who were six points adrift but with a match in hand. Dempo won with an incredible 14-0 scoreline over Air India but Salgaocar’s victory meant their I-League record winning margin was to no avail.
Francis Fernandes set Salgaocar on their way by giving them the lead on 13 minutes, and the destination of the title was put beyond doubt five minutes from full time with a goal from veteran Ghanaian forward Yusif Yakubu getting the celebrations under way.
Meanwhile, the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda witnessed one of the most one-sided matches in the history of Indian football. Ranti Martins netted a double hat-trick, while Beto scored four times as Dempo’s win obliterated the previous I-League record winning margin achieved by Mahindra United who defeated Mohammedan Sporting 9-0 in 2006/07.
Salgaocar’s championship win marked a fifth successive success for the small state of Goa, and the seventh in total – one more than Kolkata, home of the two traditional giants of Indian football, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. Dethroned champions Dempo, along with fellow Goan club Churchill Brothers, will achieve the unique feat of securing the top-three I-League positions for the state should East Bengal fail to defeat Chirag United in the final match of the season later this week.