FC Pune City’s waiting game paid off with a goal against the run of play by substitute Eugeneson Lyngdoh and earned the visiting team a 1-0 away victory over Mumbai City FC in the Hero ISL 2016.
Lyngdoh, playing his first game after featuring in the AFC Cup final in Qatar for Bengaluru FC, capitalised on confusion in the MCFC defence, with a defender standing in on-rushing goalkeeper Albino Gomes’ path. The ball bounced up for the midfielder to volley into an empty net on the bounce.
Gomes’ moment of frustration, resulting in the match-winner for Pune, was in contrast to another masterly show from the big man in the rival goal, Edel Bete, whose reflexes and positioning were top-class.
The toughest test for him was dealing with a Diego Forlan free-kick, aimed at the far post to catch the goalkeeper by surprise. Bete dealt with the bounce by twisting his body sideways and blocking the ball.
MCFC tested Bete in both halves but the custodian showed his class under pressure.
The home team handed a first-team place to Albino Gomes under the bar, keeping India custodian Amrinder Singh to the substitutes. Sony Norde also did not figure in the line-up, his place taken by Chhetri, back from AFC Cup final. The latter was the only Bengaluru FC player to be drafted into the playing squad.
Lyngdoh took his place in the visiting team’s dugout as coach Antonio Habas kept faith in Lenny Rodrigues. PCFC gave back Eduardo Ferreira his place in the defence. The Brazilian had fainted twice in the previous game after hurting his cheekbone.
Anibal gave MCFC a scare, bursting through on the right to the goalline but no teammate was at hand to finish the pull-back.
Bete ruled his space in goal again when substitute Thaigo Cunha headed from the left towards the right post. Forlan was dwarfed by the giant custodian, who closed in and pouched the ball calmly. He took charge again to deflect a shot from acute angle by Defederico.
Lyngdoh joined the action after a subdued first half where the home team, in blue, focussed on ball possession and fast breakaways. The visitors, in white, defended well but was hesitant of taking shots at goal.
MCFC messed up a chance to move ahead, Golan the culprit for mistiming his tap-in at the far post after moving into position for a flag-kick. Thiago erred next, swinging his leg for a volley and not connecting cleanly.
The win lifted Pune into fourth place after nine games (12 points). Mumbai remains in second place after 10 games, one point behind leader Delhi Dynamos FC and a place in play-off within range.
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