I-L: Pune FC, Lajong play out 2-2 draw
Pune FC continued their winless run against Shillong Lajong at home with a thrilling 2-2 draw against the north-east side in an I-League Round 20 encounter at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Saturday.
Pune FC took the lead through winger Gabriel Fernandes (14th minute) in the first half before Uilliams Souza (26th) equalised for the visitors. Uilliams completed his brace in the 70th minute before a last minute goal from striker Mirjan Pavlovic pulled Pune FC level.
The match also saw referee Maria Rebello become the first woman referee to officiate an I-League match on the World Women's Day.
Coach Mike Snoei made two changes for Pune FC handing starts to attacker Riga Mustapha and striker Mirjan Pavlovic.
After soaking pressure in the first ten minutes, Pune FC began dominating proceedings and took the lead around the quarter hour mark.
As medio Riga Mustapha sent Mirjan through on the right, the striker raced into the box trying to round off keeper Lalthuammawia Ralte who blocked the attempt.
However, Gabriel capitalised on the stray ball and slotted it home from 12-yards out.
Ten minutes later, the visitors pulled level as Pune FC's defense went to sleep. Uilliams' rather harmless freekick from the right wing somehow ended up in the net at the far post after the defense and the keeper failed to react.
Both sides created few chances but the half ended 1-1.
The second half was a similar story as Pune FC kept on pushing ahead dominating the game. Ten minutes into the half, Mirjan went close thrice.
First he controlled winger Anthony D'Souza's cross in from the left inside the box but lost his footing. A minute later, skipper Douhou Pierre set him up with a through ball inside the box on the right. However, Mirjan's attempt was somehow saved by Ralte in Lajong's goal.
Moments later, the Australian striker controlled Riga's through ball on the left only for his attempt to come off the first post from inside the box.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play in the 70th minute. As defender Minchol Son pushed up and fired a grounder, the ball ended up in the feet of Uilliams standing in the way on the top of the box on the right. The striker controlled the ball and finished it past Amrinder Singh at the far post to complete his brace.
Pune FC, determined to pull level kept on pushing up and almost camping in Lajong's half. The visitors however opted to slow down the game and consume more time. On one occasion, winger Durga Boro was stretchered out before coming in immediately and then once again being stretchered out a minute later.
However, Pune FC were not to be outdone. Probing into Lajong's half, the hosts earned a freekick on the left.
Defender Calum Angus fired the ball into the box and substitute Gurjinder Kumar headed it into the box from the far post. Mirjan, waiting in the face of the goal nodded home to send the fans into frenzy.
Pune FC kept on pushing for the winner deep into injury time, but the visitors held on for a draw.
(Posted on 09-03-2014)
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