Defending champions East Bengal survived anxious moments through the match but managed to hold Salgaocar to a goalless draw in the ONGC [ Get Quote ] ninth National Football League, played at Nehru stadium, in Margao on Sunday.
The draw puts pressure on East Bengal as they bid to clinch the title for the third sucessive year.
East Bengal, who are on third place with 40 points from 19 matches, now need to win all the three remaining matches to claim the title if Sporting wins their next two matches.
Salgaocar are in seventh position with 24 points from 20 matches.
Salgaocar who dominated the match throughout put East Bengal under tremendous pressure and could have taken lead as early as in the 3rd minute but Jerose Oliveira chested the ball straight into keeper Sangram Mukherjee hands off Bello Rasaq pass.
Fabio Passo who worked hard in the middle was guilty twice when he failed to score clear chance off Felix Ibrebru pass.
East Bengal who could afford to draw one of their four matches played a cautious and had a glorious chance midway in the first half but Ernest Jermah who was put through inside the box directed his weak shot straight to keeper Juje Siddi Hands.
Earlier Alvito D'cunha who posed danger whenever he had the ball with his fine run down the flank tested 'keeper Siddi who punched the ball out of danger from a free kick.
The second half was saw some tensed moments and referee Rizwan Ul Haq did well to bring the match under control as he showed yellow cards to Salgaocar's Remus Gomes, Prasant Jaggi, John Dias and East Bengal's Ernest Jeremah, Debhit Ghos.
He also sent East Bengal physio Rajesh out of the ground as he tried to enter the field without informing the referee midway in the second half.
Salgaocar continued to hold the domination and hard working Felix Ibrebru who got the man of the match award was denied a goal as East Bengal 'keeper Sangram kept his shot out.
Sangram again came to his side rescue midway in the second half when he dived to his right to bring off a fine save off Felix.
Earlier Fabio Passo missed a clear chance off a through pass by Felix.
Salgaocar who kept on the pressure and were unlucky in the dying minutes when Felix Ibrebru 25-yards shot slipped from keeper Sangram hands and went out. In the stoppage time East Bengal's Climax Lawrence came to his side rescue when he headed out a Bello Rasa shot.