Maharashtra derby ends in a stalemate

FC Pune City continued taking small, but firm steps towards clinching a place in the knockout stage of the ISL 2015 with a goalless draw at the D Y Patil stadium against Mumbai City FC.

Mumbai City FC and FC Pune City could not find a way past each other at the D Y Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.   -  PTI

FC Pune City continued taking small, but firm steps towards clinching a place in the knockout stage of the ISL 2015 with a goalless draw at the D Y Patil stadium against Mumbai City FC.

Needing a victory against Pune to come within range of a knockout place, Mumbai City relied on individual brilliance for goals. Anelka, who was forced into replacing Brandon Fernandes, recovering from injury, in the first half, kept faith in his chosen men till time ran out. Subash Singh and Fredric Piquionne came close, missing the target by inches.

Arindam, manning the Pune City goal and chosen ahead of Steve Simonsen, proved his credentials with a reflex block to foil Mumbai City’s best chance. When substitute Sampathkumar Kuttymani controlled a lob from Piquonne with his chest and swung a right-footer towards goal, the custodian had the angle covered. Determined to erase the bitterness of a huge defeat at home to Atletico de Kolkata, the blues were captained by Anelka. Subrata Paul was preferred in goal but Sunil Chhetri could only make the bench. Watson Fernandes replaced Oscar Bruzon as assistant coach after the latter’s differences with Anelka cost him the job.

FC Pune City coach David Platt continued to keep rivals guessing with six changes in the playing squad. Star strikers Adrian Mutu and Tuncay Sanli kept rival defenders on their toes upfront. Bikash Jairu and Gurjinder Singh played as wing-halves and were given space to create moves down the flanks. Govin Singh and Sushanth Mathew were new faces in defence.

Mumbai City kept up a flow of attacks to keep custodian Arindam Bhattacharya busy. Subash got a close look at goal in the 27th minute and was quick to reach and trap a rebound off the goalkeeper, but unlucky to see a hasty shot crash into the side-netting.

Chhetri and Lyngdoh watched from the bench, when their presence was needed to inject spark into the game, following a goalless first half. Both had played the night before in Bengaluru for India against Guam.

Mutu forced Subrata into full stretch towards the right post, tracking the ball flying wide and bouncing onto the hoarding.

The draw brings Platt’s team level on points with leaders FC Goa. Anelka’s team retained sixth place, adding a point to their tally which now stands at 12 after nine games.

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