Pune FC beat United SC in I-league

Mumbai, Dec 15 : Pune FC bounced back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over United SC in an I-League Football Round 15 encounter at the Municipal Stadium in Kalyani, near here, Sunday.

The win was Pune's first away league win over United SC and was powered by a first-half brace from striker Riga Mustapha (11th and 24th minute). Defender Hasan Al Moustafa (48th) pulled one back for the hosts early in the second half.

It was also the first time Pune scored more than one goal against United in a match held outside Pune in all competitions since promotion to the elite league.

Coach Mike Snoei made four changes to the squad from the previous round, bringing in Anthony D'Souza, James Meyer, Othallo Tabia and Mumtaz Akhtar in place of Thongkhosiem Haokip, Gurjinder Kumar, Fanai Lalrempuia and Arata Izumi.

Pune made the better start to the match as they held on to the ball much better than the hosts. Eleven minutes in, they made their territorial advantage count taking the lead through Riga.

Skipper Anas Edathodika excellently played Riga through down the right and the striker didn't disappoint with his low shot across the goal ending up in the back of the net at the far post.

Post the quarter hour mark, both sides began pressing and the game witnessed pure end-to-end action.

First winger James Meyer's cross in from the right was saved just ahead of the onrushing attackers whereas at the other end, striker Ranti Martins saw his cross from the right cleared.

Moments later, Pune once again went close. Riga tried to chip the goalkeeper from 40-yards out after some intelligent play by Douhou Pierre. However, his effort was saved by the goalkeeper.

And a minute later, attacker Eric Brown intercepted Anas Edathodika's ball before setting up Ranti at the other end only for him to shoot wide.

Midway through the half, Riga completed his brace giving Pune a two goal cushion. Defender Salam Ranjan Singh did well to win the ball in the midfield before finding Douhou. The Ivorian thereafter found Meyer on the right whose low ball into the box was tapped in by Riga from six-yards.

At the half hour mark, Douhou saw his effort from range being saved after Meyer had set him up. At the other end, the hosts had a direct attempt from a long range freekick go over.

Five minutes later, custodian Abhijit Das produced another save as he blocked Meyer's volley after defender Calum Angus and winger Anthony D'Souza combined to set him up.

Moments later, Calum found Ranjan at the far post after a short corner from Douhou. However the young defender failed to shoot with acres of space.

In the final minute of the half, Eric beat defender Othallo Tabia and found Ranti. Despite being checked by Calum, the Nigerian got a shot from close which was saved by 'keeper Amrinder Singh to keep Pune's two goal lead intact.

Three minutes after restart, Pune suffered a blow as United pulled a goal back. After medio Lalkamal Bhowmick's long range freekick was blocked by Pune's defensive wall, the stray ball fell for Hasan who slotted home giving Amrinder no chance.

Both sides created a couple of chances in the final minutes but Pune FC held on for their first win in six matches.

--IANS (Posted on 15-12-2013)

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