Punjab FC was held to a 1-1 draw against Hyderabad FC as two goals late in the second half, one each by Juan Mera and Jonathan Moya, meant that the two teams settled for a point each at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 on Tuesday.
Mera handed Punjab the lead in a game where there was little to separate between the two sides statistically. The match rounded off with Hyderabad FC attempting 15 shots at goal, as compared to Punjab FC’s 13. The Nizams had four shots on target, as compared to the three of the home side. However, it was the late interlinking between Mera and Madih Talal that infused excitement in the last 20 minutes of the encounter.
Mera’s goal was not the first time that he joined hands with Talal to create trouble for the Hyderabad FC backline. Punjab FC had been probing the opposition’s defence from the offset, with Mera playing a through ball to Talal that pierced the away team’s backline on the right flank. Talal ended up taking a touch too heavy and paid the price for that by failing to be in control of the shot when he pulled the trigger a few yards away from Hyderabad FC goalkeeper Gurmeet Singh.
However, their moment of reckoning came in the 82nd minute, with a much simpler offensive move this time around. Punjab FC moved ahead in numbers, and Talal delivered the squared-off the decisive final pass to Mera inside the 18-yard box. The Spaniard made no mistakes and netted the opener with a fairly straightforward shot past Gurmeet.
Hyderabad FC quickly remodelled its gameplay though, deciding to attack more from the wider areas of the pitch by stretching the Punjab FC backline. Mark Zothanpuia spotted an unmarked Moya inside the box and delivered a cross that was well met and nodded in home by the latter in the 98th minute of the match.
Punjab FC must have realised that the victory was there for the taking for them, and hence it didn’t let its guard down until the end. Slovenian striker Luka Majcen brought down a long ball and struck it into the back of the net. However, the forward was offside by a bare margin, thus keeping the Stakois Vergetis-coached side from claiming three points from this match.
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