Gurung leads Pune to commanding win

The wiry Indian came up with two assists and also scored a goal to help FC Pune City register a 3-1 win over Mumbai City FC at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune.

Tuncay Sanli celebrates after scoring one of his two goals for FC Pune City   -  Sportzpics

David Platt has high regard for Israil Gurung’s confidence in completing a given task. The wiry Indian repaid his coach’s faith with two assists and a goal, as FC Pune City walked away with a 3-1 victory against Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League here on Monday. Former Turkey midfielder Tuncay Sanli, with snap headers, accounted for the other two goals.

Gurung, with good positioning and a touch of class, floated into the free space on the right flank. Twice the ball was relayed to him by team-mates who waited for his next move. The tireless Pune midfielder kept his balance to send in pinpoint centres with his right foot and capped a fine performance on the day by scoring his team's third goal with a looping floater.

Mumbai youngster Albino Gomes made his debut as first-choice goalkeeper. Nicolas Anelka’s faith in local players, Ashutosh Mehta and Keegan Pereira, to man the backline, which also had Franz Bertin and Pavel Cmovcs, was risky.Tuncay, with his headers, exploited a tentative back four, who advanced too far towards the centreline.

The first goal came off a burst by Lenny Rodrigues to the centreline, switching sideways to Nicky Shorey, who in turn found Gurung. Tuncay sneaked in from the blind side of a defender as Gurung switched the point of attack with a floater across the goalmouth for the pony-tailed Turkish linkman to nod home.

French striker Frederic pulled Mumbai back into the game with an easy header. He ran alone to head a floater from Mehta into the goal. None of the Pune defenders was in sight, with goalkeeper Simonsen on the goal-line, waiting for teammates to scramble back.

Platt’s decision to play six midfielders and no forward did not work in the face of Mumbai's pressing tactics and confidence on the ball, moving from defence to offensive play predominantly on the right flank. Romanian Adrian Mutu waited for his turn on the Pune bench.

Yenrick Ruiz’s entry as specialist striker, in place of midfielder James Bailey, was an early indicator of change in Pune tactics. Mumbai's central defenders, Cmovcs and Bertin, kept an eye on the Costa Rican substitute, who had a role in Pune’s second goal.

Pune captain Zakora combined with Lenny to send Gurung down the right flank with no challenger in sight. He floated the ball high across the goal. Ruiz missed a header at the first post, but Sanli followed up, twisting his body into position and heading home powerfully. He then made way for marquee player Mutu.

French World Cup player Anelka brought himself on in the 75th minute and the Tunisian international, Selim Benachor, joined the attack later. However, in a crowd of foreigners of different nationalities, a hard-running Indian walked away with honours. Gurung hobbled with cramps towards the close, happy to have done his bit as fireworks marked the home team's victory at Balewadi.