Margao:Roberto Mendes Silva's late goal helped Dempo Sports Club hold East Bengal to a 2-2 draw in round four of the ONGC I-League at Nehru stadium in Margao on Sunday.
East Bengal scored through strikers M M Mukasi (24th) and Edmilson Marques (60th) while Dempo, who controlled the proceeding equalised through Valeriano Rebello (26th) and Silva (86th).
East Bengal keeper Subrato Pal was declared man of the match.
The draw keeps Dempo at the top of the table with 10 points, the same as JCT.
East Bengal are third with seven points from four matches.
Both teams started cautiously. But Dempo gradually took control over proceedings and forced three flag kicks and saw Silva's header missing the target narrowly.
East Bengal took the lead through a counter-attack.
Edmilson Marques, accepting a ball on the right relayed it to M M Mukasi who hoodwinked defender John Dias with a body feint, raced down and beat keeper Abijit Mondal on his left.
Unperturbed by the setback, Dempo restored parity two minutes later. Defender Valeriano Rebello sent a goalmouth lob which took a deflection off defender Majek Balaji's head and caught keeper Pal off guard to find the net.
Thereafter, it was all Dempo and East Bengal survived anxious moments with Roberto Silva's shot from the top of the box hit the post and Nicholau Boges missed an open goal from inside the box off a pass from Climax Lawrence.
Sensing danger, East Bengal played a defensive game and coach Subrata Bhatacharjee removed striker Mukasi bringing on defender Soumik Dey to bolster the defence in the second half with Edmilson Marques playing as the lone striker.
The move paid rich dividends as East Bengal again took the lead in the 60th minute.
Alivto D'Cunha sent a forward pass to Edmilson Marques, who raced into the box before despatching a firm grounder past Abhijit Mondal.
Dempo piled on the pressure with a series of raids but the East Bengal defence, in the absence of M Suresh and Surkumar Singh, did well to ward off the danger until the 86th minute when Silva equalised off a lob by Mahesh Gawli.
Referee Ali Saleem of the Maldives showed yellow cards to East Bengal's M Bolaji and Mehtab Hussain.