ISL: FC Pune City trumps ATK again

Pune celebrated the emergence of new match-winners in Adil Khan, Diego Carlos and Rohit Kumar in an easier-than-expected 3-0 victory at the Balewadi stadium on Saturday.

Adil Khan one of the heroes for FC Pune City on Saturday.   -  Prashant Nakwe

ATK lost to FC Pune City for the second time in ISL season four, this time losing the away game at Balewadi stadium by a margin of three goals. The defending champion was at the receiving end of a 4-1 scoreline earlier at home, outsmarted by Marcelino on that night.

Match Centre: As it Happened

 

Pune celebrated the emergence of new match-winners in Adil Khan, Diego Carlos and Rohit Kumar in an easier-than-expected 3-0 victory at the Balewadi stadium on Saturday.

READ: FC Pune City signs two internationals in transfer window

FCPC’s spirited effort to take the lead paid off in the 32nd minute after in-form striker Emiliano Alfaro had missed from close. Marcelino, captain and ace goal-getter, turned provider by lifting the ball from the left flank into the goalmouth. The ball travelled unhindered for Adil Khan to appear from nowhere and nod in his fourth goal this season.

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Marcelino and Alfaro, a pair of deadly strikers, were content to allow better placed teammates to grab the limelight. Diego Carlos seized the moment to raise the profile for Brazilians in the competition. He controlled the ball on the left of the box, left defenders stranded with step-overs, moved back and across, thus creating space for a right-footed shot to the corner. Debjit Majumdar found the angle too far to cover.

Cheered on by vocal home team fans, FCPC was busy from the start, thwarting ATK raids with confidence and swiftly launching counter-attacks down the flanks. Alfraro picked up a pass beyond the centre-circle, drifted into space and faced with a defender approaching, turned and shot at goal. The ball soared far over Debjit’s head and into the stands.

The experienced ATK custodian was kept busy, first by Alfaro diving to connect with his head to a floater from the left flank dipping near the right post. The Uruguayan mistimed his charge and glancing header bounced wide. The visiting team's goalkeeper was in no position to block the next header; Adil  powered the ball in and waved to coach Ranko Popovic who was sitting among fans as he was serving out the four-match suspension.

Jolted awake by th 32nd minute goal, ATK turned on the neat. Vishal Kaith, boosted by fans shouting his name after holding on to a Zequinha try with confidence, kept a hawk eye as an long-range try by Ryan Taylor was cleared and Connor Thomas attempt to squeeze the ball through a crowd of legs was foiled by Jewel Shaikh off the goalline.

ATK chief coach Terry Sheringham introduced Robin Singh in the second half to add muscle to the misfiring forwardline. Vladica Grujic, standing in for Popovic, allowed new FCPC signing Marko Sankovic to get a feel of turf at the Balewadi stadium, taking out captain Marcelino.

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