Gangtok, Oct 28 (IANS) Riding on two controversial decisions, an under-par Dempo overcame a stubborn United Sikkim 2-1 with goals from their foreign players Koko Sakibo and Ryuji Sueko, here Sunday at the Paljor Stadium.
Koko Sakibo gave the defending champions the lead with a powerful header from a close range in the 21st minute and Sueko converted a penalty in the injury time to ensure that Dempo return home with three full points.
Nurudeen Salau had restored parity for United Sikkim in the 57th minute and it looked like the I-League debutants would snatch one valuable point from Dempo but went down fighting as a penalty was aqarded against them in the 93rd minute.
With seconds left for the game to finish, Climax Lawrence fell down in the penalty box after an innocuous push by a United Sikkim defender.
Referee Pratap Singh awarded a penalty and while United Sikkim players protested the decision, central defender Sandesh Jhingan appeared to have slapped Dempo player Peter Carvalo who slumped to the ground.
Jhingan was shown a direct red card and Sueko had no problems in converting the resultant penalty.
Pratap Singh had earlier disallowed a goal scored by United Sikkim captain Anwar Ali in the 10th minute.
Dempo coach Armando Colaco admitted that United Sikkim was a better side on Sunday.
"United Sikkim played better on their home ground and with full crowd support. Luckily we got three points and it is the experience of Dempo players that led to the victory", he said.
United Sikkim were more incisive in their attack and created several goal-scoring opportunities in the first half, keeping rival goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury on his toes.
Buddiram Tudu missed two open chances while Linekar Machado should have done better. Machado sailed past three Dempo defenders from half-line but could only manage a weak shot from close range which was easily saved by Man-of-the-Match Chowdhury.