Salgaocar FC came back twice to hold Dempo SC 3-3 and qualify for the semifinals of the AWES Cup, organised by AWES and being played at Tilak Maidan, Vasco, on Tuesday.
Salgaocar finished their group engagements with five points from three matches, to make them the first team from the group to qualify. Dempo SC have four points from two matches and their last match against FC Pune City will decide the second team to make it to the semifinals. FC Pune City are yet to open their account but have two games in hand.
Salgaocar deserved a draw on Tuesday.
The young side made a great start as they surged ahead in the fourth minute through Ronaldo Oliveira but Dempo struck back with a goal by defender Olan Chandran in the 32nd minute.
Dempo took the lead for the first time of the game in the 42nd minute through Beevan D’Mello but Salgaocar FC equalised in the first minute of the second session through a wonderful long-ranger from captain Mackroy Peixoto.
Dempo coach Samir Naik brought in Josley Dias to sharpen their attack and the striker won them a penalty just a few minutes after he took the field when he was brought down inside the box. Naveen Mendes stepped up and converted to give Dempo a 3-2 lead.
However, Salgaocar were back in the game with eight minutes left for the final whistle as Ronaldo scored his second goal of the match to tie the match 3-3.
Ronaldo’s late goal was a result of some sustained pressure from Salgaocar forwards who went close on several occasions before finally getting the equaliser.
The match was a tale of two halves. If Dempo were impressive in the first session and called the shots, Salgaocar were equally good in the second.