ISL: FC Pune City and Bengaluru FC settle for 1-1 draw

The away side, which needed all three points to seal qualification for the playoffs, controlled a majority of the first half and deservedly took the lead only to be denied by a spirited second half performance by BFC.

It was Bengaluru FC, which had an encouraging start to the match.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

FC Pune City and Bengaluru FC played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Friday. The away side, which needed all three points to seal qualification for the playoffs, controlled a majority of the first half and deservedly took the lead only to be denied by a spirited second half performance by BFC.

But it was BFC which had an encouraging start to the match. Midfielders Antonio Dovale and Dimas Delgado made their presence felt with a neat interplay of passes as early as the second minute. Then the former played the overlapping rightback Rahul Bheke through with a fine chipped ball. But surprisingly BFC struggled to impose itself from thereon.

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The pacy Udanta Singh and skipper Sunil Chhetri were largely ineffective while Dovale, playing just behind forward Miku, was often guilty of taking one touch too many. The opener for Pune came in the 22nd minute when Sarthak Goloui turned in a perfectly weighted pass by Emiliano Alfaro who was played in before that by Marcelinho following a mistake by Bheke.

Minutes later the excellent Marcelinho almost doubled the lead but for a last ditch tackle by Juanan which prevented the Brazilian from racing through on goal. The closest the home side came to scoring was when Miku had a shot from 30 yards out turned away for a corner.

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BFC however piled on the pressure in the second period. Pune barely got out of their own half, with goalkeeper Vishal Kaith a busy man throughout. With 20 minutes left, Baljit Sahni was lucky not to concede a penalty after what seemed like a deliberate handball to thwart a Chhetri cross.

The equaliser came not long after Saini's botched clearance saw substitute Semboi Haokip cut the ball back for Miku to volley in from close range. Pune could have regained the lead immediately after when a glorious pass by Marcelinho split the BFC defence wide open and found Diego Oliveira only for him to fluff his shot.

On 90 minutes, Miku missed a great opportunity when he blasted the ball over from just outside the six-yard box. Pune broke immediately and even registered a shot on goal but Marcelinho's attempted curl was too close to BFC goalie Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

The result: Bengaluru FC 1 (Miku 75) drew with FC Pune City (Sarthak Goloui 22).