League leaders Salgaocar recorded a thrilling 3-2 win over East Bengal in a round eight clash of the I-League in Kalyani Friday to go three points clear at the top of the standings.
Goals from Karma Tsewang, Francis Fernandes and Clifton Dias saw Salgaocar race to a 3-0 lead but East Bengal threatened to stage a comeback as James Moga and Semilen Doungel got on the scoresheet.
Salgaocar, however, held on to get their fifth win of the season and now have 16 points from seven outings.
Having beaten United SC 2-0 in Kalyani in round seven, Salgaocar were confident of another positive away result and they went in front after just eight minutes when Karma scored past East Bengal custodian Abhijit Mondal after Naoba Singh had cleared Darryl Duffy's initial effort.
Even before the home team could recover from the early setback, India international Francis made it 2-0 just two minutes later. The wide midfielder chipped the ball over an onrushing Abhijit after a brilliant solo run as the visitors doubled their advantage.
East Bengal desperately needed a goal to come back into the contest and they did create some openings but Salgaocar custodian Karanjit Singh was in fine form. The India international notably made a brilliant double save to deny Edeh Chidi and Lalrindika Ralte in quick succession.
Despite having the two-goal cushion, Salgaocar kept looking for the third.
East Bengal dominated possession at the start of the second half but were wasteful with their final ball while Salgaocar also defended solidly.
Salgaocar went three up at the hour mark when youngster Dias volleyed home Francis' cross past a helpless Abhijit.
At that point it looked game over but just four minutes later Moga pulled one back for the home side as his header gave Karanjit no chance.
The goal from Moga gave East Bengal some hope and Falopa tried to increase the tempo by making a few substitutions. On the other hand Salgaocar coach Derrick Pereira understandably made some defensive changes.
One of Falopa's substitutes, Doungel, scored East Bengal's second in the 77th minute with a brilliant long range effort. The youngster showed great technique to score with that strike and it ensured a nervy last few minutes for Salgaocar.
East Bengal though failed to seriously test Karanjit in the final stages while Salgaocar substitute Claude Gnakpa was denied a fourth by Abhijit.
In the end, East Bengal couldn't complete the comeback as Salgaocar recorded their first-ever away win over the Kolkata club in the I-League era.