FC Pune City maintained a clean sheet and topped the points table by recording their second consecutive win with a single-goal victory over NorthEast United in the Indian Super League (ISL) football match at Pune’s Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium on Friday.
Pune emerged victorious courtesy an own goal from Zohmingliana Ralte in the 73rd minute of the keenly fought match at the Balewadi Stadium. The match was a fast-paced one but had few openings as play was mostly a midfield battle. The home side held the edge, with Ivory Coast international Didier Zokora turning up an impressive show.
The first 45 minutes had few shots at the goal and both teams did not test the goalikeepers. The best chance of the half fell to Pune marquee player Adrian Mutu but the Romanian striker took it with his weaker foot and the shot lacked power.
The home side quickly got into a groove and did most of the attacking in the initial period, but NorthEast came into their own as the match progressed. But they showed that they are a side lacking in ideas at the opposition box. At the stroke of the half hour, Pune had a go at the opposition goal with Israil Gurung taking a shot from inside the NorthEast box but Ralte blocked it.
Then it was the turn of the visiting team, but Sanju Pradhan put the ball wide off a free header in the 36th minute.
The second half was more lively with NorthEast pressing for a goal. In the 56th minute, Diomansy Kamara blasted the ball wide off the target after he was sent to the clear by Nicolas Velez.
The Pune keeper charged forward to block Velez only to see Kamara getting the ball. Kamara could have taken the shot first time when the keeper was off his line. Instead, he decided to take a touch which allowed the keeper to get back in position. That was NorthEast’s best scoring chance.
Pune’s fortunes changed with the introduction of Tuncay Sanli, the team’s hero in their opener, in the 61st minute in place of Mutu. The Turkish international added spark in the Pune attack and was in the thick of things. He got one of his shots at the back of the NorthEast net only to be ruled off-side.
Pune got their goal in the 73rd minute with NorthEast’s Ralte putting the ball into the back of his own net off a corner kick taken by Lalrempuia. The ball was swung into a crowded penalty box and it was Ralte into the net.
Jolted by the reverse, NorthEast tried to regroup and made a few attempts at the Pune goal. But they showed that they were bereft of ideas and failed to find the equaliser.