I-League: Pune FC beat ONGC in season opener
Pune FC ended their three-year wait for an opening game win by registering a 3-2 verdict over ONGC FC in the I-League 2012-13 at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi on Monday.
The host's were made to sweat for their three points as ONGC staged a spirited comeback from a 0-2 deficit. To make matters tense Pune FC played out the last eleven minutes with 10-men when Mumtaz Akhtar was sent off for his second booking,
Pune FC netted through Jeje Lalpekhlua (22nd minute), Subash Singh (48th) to go two-up, before Jatin Bhist (54th) and Katsumi Yusa (61st) evened out the game.
Pune FC substitute Shanmugam Venkatesh (71st) netted the match-winner to delight the crowd and take Pune FC into joint third place on the league table.
The win for Pune FC came after a series of draws in the three previous seasons.
The home side went on the offensive from the very beginning. In the opening moments, Douhou Pierre played wide to Karma Tsewang on the right who crossed first time to Subash in the box. Subash teed up for Daisuke Nishiguchi, who shot just over the horizontal.
After engaging in a midfield battle for much time, Gurjinder Kumar sent Daisuke in the clear on the left. He cut back to square the ball back to Gurjinder who failed to trap. The loose ball fell for Srikanth Ramu whose ambitious try from 35-yards went wide.
Moments later, Douhou went deep into the box, parallel to the goal line, before outstepping the ball to Karma who missed from a yard out.
It didn't take long after that for Pune FC to take the lead. Subash, from the right, fend off a tackle by Kamal Thapa, who lunged and tried to displace the striker. Subash, however kept going and weaved clear to send a cross which got the hand of Sandeep Sangha.
Referee pointed to the spot and and Jeje duly converted sending a low shot to the left-bottom corner.
ONGC came out from their shell and Yusa forced Pune FC custodian Shahinlal Meloly into a diving save to his right. Both sides continued to attack, but failed in the final third.
The second period began with Pune FC going two goals up. On a counter, Subash carried the ball from the half line before cutting in from the left to let fly from 25 yards.
Ten minutes into the half, ONGC pulled one back. Defender Anas Edathodika headed out a cross which fell into Jatin's feet. Jatin took a shot which deflected off Anas's legs and looped over Shahinlal.
Minutes after the hour mark, ONGC drew level through Yusa. The Japanese latched onto a stray ball after Mumtaz Akhtar failed to mark him. Yusa took a powerful drive which went past Shahinlal.
Halfway into the second period, ONGC went close to taking the lead. A corner from left went past the face of the goal, but ONGC players failed to react.
Two minutes later, Venkatesh put Pune FC back in the lead. Douhou on the left flank, found Venkatesh in the clear whose deft finish at the second post left goalkeeper baffled as he missed the flight.
Ten minutes from time, medio Mumtaz was sent off for a second yellow after breaking the wall before the whistle. His first booking came after a needless handball.
Deep into injury time, Pune FC survived a scare. Sachin Gawas sent a long ball into the box. Shahinlal missed the flight and fumbled with the collection as the ball hit the post and the 'keeper reacted quickly to hold on to the ball.