ISL: Pune City, Chennaiyin share the spoils

Rodriguez’s 88th minute equaliser, two minutes after being introduced into the attack by coach Antonio Habas, saved Pune from a humiliating loss at home. The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Chennaiyin F.C. players celebrate Jeje's (12) goal against F.C. Pune City.   -  ISL

Both goalkeepers were at the receiving end in a 1-1 draw between F.C. Pune City and Chennaiyin F.C., here at the Balewadi stadium on Sunday. Edel Bete’s reflexes and reach mattered little to the clever Jeje Lelpeklua, who lobbed his former teammate on the bounce over for the opening goal.

The home team, chasing an elusive victory, grabbed a point when substitute Anibal Rodriguez curled the ball around a wall of white-shirted defenders and made the lumbering Dwayne Kerr see red.

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Rodriguez’s 88th minute equaliser, two minutes after being introduced into the attack by coach Antonio Habas, saved Pune from a humiliating loss at home. Kerr did not react on the line, maybe unsighted by defenders and did not inspire confidence.

Bete, on the other hand, twisted his huge frame to his left and stretched out with his left hand to somehow get a fingertip to the ball, but it was all in vain as the ball dipped gently in to the goal. Jeje’s first goal for the season will be remembered by those present.

Bete, who was Jeje's teammate during last year's title-winning campaign for Chennaiyin, is familiar with the Indian’s bundle of tricks, but was surprised when the trigger was pulled.

Chennaiyin goal got a scare when Traore, later to play a dominant role, nodded in a pull-back from Luca down the left, but the latter had crossed beyond the sideline and the goal as disallowed. Pune looked sharp on the ball and launched into repeated forays.

Both sides set a torrid pace, before Jeje created a goal from nowhere to put the visitor ahead in the 28th minute and silence the home fans. He controlled the ball, floated from the back by Lalrinzuala, and then tapped it over and beyond Bete.

Pune's best move thereafter in the first half was a looping right-footed try by Luca after making space for the shot. The ball soared and dipped, but the Brazilian had put more power than needed and cursed himself on seeing the ball clear the crossbar.

The home team launched into relentless attacks after resumption, got the ball around the goalmouth from different angles, but the visitor's defensive line did not waver. Traore volleyed on the bounce, the ball soared beyond range.

The Mali striker earned a yellow for diving. Materazzi brought in Harmanjot Khabra to disrupt waves of attacks. Habas’ decision to throw in Anibal paid off for Pune, which moves up a place to sixth. The defending champion remains in third place, a win snatched from grasp.

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