Pune: FC Pune City put it across NorthEast United FC 1-0 to register their second consecutive victory in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) in Pune on Friday.
The victory helped Pune City move to the top of the table with six points, while NorthEast United, despite an improved performance, are yet to open their account and at the bottom of the pool.
The only goal of the match came in the 72nd minute when NorthEast United defender Zohmingliana Ralte, under pressure from Yendrick Ruiz, headed a corner into his own goal.
FC Pune City coach David Platt caught many unawares when he opted to start with marquee player Adrian Mutu while relegating Turkish international Tuncay Sanli to the bench. Tuncay had scored two goals in the opener but Mutu, now fully fit, provided several glimpses to suggest he still has it in him to trouble rival defenders.
It was only due to the superb marking by NorthEast United defender Cedric Hengbart that Mutu was kept under a tight watch. Mutu, though, did manage to create an opening early in the game but his right footer was saved well by the rival goalkeeper.
NorthEast United were livelier and dangerous than their opener against Kerala Blasters. Despite missing the services of their marquee player Simao Sabrosa and captain Miguel Garcia, NorthEast showed spark but lacked the final touch up front.
Nicolas Velez was troubling the rival defenders but the Argentinian striker lacked the final touch that could give his team a deserving goal. Several chances came his way, notably in the 20th minute when he got the better of Pune defender D Ravanan on the right but his final shot was not good enough to beat the goalkeeper from close range.
In the 30th minute, NorthEast came close again as Lenny Rodrigues allowed Kamara to get the better of him just inside the box. Kamara pulled the ball back close to goal and then looked to set it up for Gadzie where Ravanan slided from nowhere to clear the danger.
Two minutes later, another chance. This time Velez’s header missed the target by a whisker.
Pune surged ahead in the 72nd minute when Lalrempuia Fanai’s corner kick was headed into his own goal by Ralte.
NorthEast, however, had a glorious chance to draw level a minute later after Dadzie’s overhead ball saw Velez all alone with only the goalkeeper to beat. The Argentine striker, however, only ended up smashing the ball into the side-netting.
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