FC Pune City perfected the counter-offensive game to a good measure in overwhelming defending champion and host ATK 4-1 in an ISL match here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.
The discordance that seemed to have derailed the Pune side, which lost its opening match at home against Delhi Dynamos 2-3 in the first outing of the season, was gone as the visitor found three goals in the second half while leading by a solitary goal in the opening session.
Marcelinho, the Brazilian whose creative skills got Delhi Dynamos to the play-offs last season, was in spectacular form in the match as he scored once and created the other three goals to help Pune City bring up the big win. Marcelinho opened the scoring for the visitor much against the run of play in the first quarter of the action before Rohit Kumar, Jordi Montel Figueras, who scored an own goal, and Uruguayan Emiliano Alfaro enhanced the tally for Pune City after the break. Bipin Singh Thounaojam put a set-piece directly into the Pune net to produce the only reply for ATK.
The host seemed to suffer cramps in its attack despite enjoying around 70 percent of possession in the opening half. The absence of Robbie Keane in the ATK offence seemed to offset the host’s aggressive designs as the Pune City defence seemed to have answers for the Finland-Portugal combination of Njazi Kuqi and Zequinha in the host’s attack.
While the visitor showed good organisation in the defence, the host looked a bit unorganised in the back. Pune City found the opener in the 13th minute when the English centre back Tom Thorpe misjudged a long ball and allowed Alfaro a free run inside own box. An approaching Marcelinho had no problem in jabbing home Alfaro’s assist.
Cheered by around 33,000 fans, ATK made a good comeback after the break getting Bipin Singh to convert a 50th minute free-kick and even the scores. Barely had the celebrations ended in the ATK ranks, when Pune City regained the lead as midfielder Rohit Kumar nodded home a swerving Marcelinho corner in the 51st minute.
This turned the match decisively in favour of Pune City which enhanced the lead by the hour mark as Jordi Figueras, the ATK captain and Spanish defender, miscued his attempted clearance on a Marcelinho shot into own goal. Alfaro was rewarded for his hard work as got his name on the score-sheet in the 80th minute, when Marcelinho returned the favour with a nice square pass for his Uruguayan colleague to slot home.