Pune FC rode on to Shanmugham Venkatesh's 71st minute strike to win their I-League season opening match against ONGC 3-2 after surviving 15-odd minutes with 10 men at the Balewadi Sports Complex stadium on Monday.
Venkatesh, who captained Pune FC in their debut season, combined
with skipper Douhou Pierre from the left as the two exchanged the ball between them twice before he lobbed the ball into the right top corner of the post in the 71st minute.
Pune FC had taken the lead through Jeje Lalpekhlua's spot kick in the 22nd minute before Subhash Singh collected a long ball from the left and fired from the top of the box to put Pune FC 2-0 ahead in the 48th minute.
But the home team's celebrations were short-lived as ONGC made a gutsy comeback, first through Jatin Singh Bisht, who deflected the ball on a pass from Mumtaz Akhter in the 55th minute and then Katsumi equalised through a great shot from 30 yards in the 62nd minute.
In the injury time, ONGC almost sealed the match in their favour when the ball hit the crosspiece and goalkeeper Shahinlal Meloly failed to collect. But the ONGC strikers were not in position to guide the unattended ball into the Pune FC net.