Delhi Dynamos ended FC Pune City’s perfect start to the season with a closely fought 2-1 win.
FC Pune City did the hard running, traversing miles on the turf. Jackichand Singh played like a maniac for 72 minutes, twisting and turning past defenders at the Balewadi stadium and facing brutal tackles, ruthless lunges. Delhi Dynamos got the act together once in the goalmouth, Robin Singh nodded in for a 23rd minute goal off a corner kick.
Ghanian substitute Richard Gadze slotted in the second towards the end, giving the visitors a two-goal cushion to withstand a fightback as Nigerian Kalu Uche capped a day of theatrics and tumbles with a snap header, a consolation strike for the home team slogging till the end.
Delhi deserved the 2-1 victory for curbing attacking instincts despite having a clutch of big names, slogging to close down space in the midfield and denying Pune any easy route to goal. The visitors notched their second successive win in ISL 2015, the home team tasted defeat after two back-back victories.
Malouda and Santos displayed exceptional ball skills, John Arne Riise defended tenaciously at the back, Antonio Santana did smart work in goal. Manager Roberto Carlos kept himself on the bench, confident of his teammates’ ability to implement plans and was rewarded with a 2-1 victory.
Platt brought in Tuncay as a substitute on resumption, to share the attacking load with Jackichand, who was making things happen on the left with tireless runs at defence. Zokora was the second change, sent to assert himself in the midfield.
Both teams started with India players in the squad, Pune with Jackichand in place of Didier Zokora as part of a five-man midfield, supporting lone striker Uche. Robin got a look-in for the first time in the Delhi frontline, hours after joining the squad.
The former made an impact with a searing run down the left, right up to the goal-line before pulling back for Uche to connect. Delhi defence reacted before the lone Pune striker in a 4-5-1 formation could get close to the ball.
The early flurry of attacks gave defences at both ends anxious times. Pune had the tricky Santos to deal with, Malouda poaching for goals with flashes of brilliant individual play. Delhi custodian Santana rose to the challenge with Jackichand on the rampage.
Robin relished space granted by shifting Pune defenders and cautious goalkeeper Simonsen watching a curling Malouda flag-kick across the goalmouth from the left. The former stepped back and scored with a side header.
Uche and Riise had their own private battle going. It started with the Nigerian sending the Norwegian sprawling face down on the sideline with a push. Riise kept close to his man, trying everything permitted to hustle his opponent.
The match took a twist in injury time. Ghadze’s controlled shot into the roof for Delhi was followed by a Pune raid, substitute Eugeneson tricked his opponent and lifted the ball goalwards, Uche made amends for a frustrating day with a leap and nod at the near post. Time ran out on FC Pune City, hurting from a loss after doing all the hard work.
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