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Pune FC breaks into Top-3 for the first time
Determined Pune FC continued their upward surge in the I-League by registering a 3-0 win over Chirag United Kerala at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi on Sunday.
The victory helped Pune FC (40 points) move into third position on the league table – a feat achieved for the first time in the ongoing 2011-2012 season and likewise become the third team to enter Club-40.
Pune FC closed out the game with first-half strikes from striker Mandjou Keita (5th minute), who then played the perfect assist compatriot striker Subash Singh (6th minute) and medio Arata Izumi (39th minute).
On a hot and humid afternoon, Pune FC accomplished their 11th win of the league, which by far surpasses their 10-win previous best achieved in their maiden run of top-flight football in India back in 2009-10.
Going in with an unchanged squad from the last match at home against Pailan Arrows, Pune FC went all out from the word go with Subash forcing a corner-kick as early as the second minute.
Three minutes later, Subash did well to supply a brilliant cross from the left to find an unmarked Keita head home past ’keeper Sharath and the fast retreating defender Sherin Sam.
A minute later Keita returned Subash’s hard work setting him up with a tap-in opportunity that the striker latched on to give Pune Fc a 2-0 advantage. Medio Douhou Pierre initiated the move of a free kick by brilliantly finding Gurjinder Kumar on the left in the clear who in turn had Keita running in.
Pune FC ‘s midfield dominated play with Karma Tsewang combining well, but falling short on his crosses.
Chirag Kerala’s first chance came in the 10th minute, courtesy Subrata Paul miscalculated charge to cut down Vineet CK’s run from the right. With the rival player getting round Subrata he centred for striker David Sunday, who messed up with his first touch and allowed the Pune FC defence clear.
Arata then found himself in the clear, but an alert defence cleared the situation. Minutes later the medio had to cope with the referee turning his back when a defender felled him inside the penalty box.
Pune FC’s raids the rivals several times. Keita then had defender Sajesh intercept his cross by just ahead of a lurking Shanmugam Venkatesh.
Vineet repeatedly harassed Pune FC and against the run of play Sunday in the clear was cut down by ‘keeper Subrata, however the referee dismissed all appeals.
On the brink of 30 minutes, the hardworking Karma did well to find Subash only to have the striker hit wide. Pune FC, meanwhile, in their half had defenders Othallo Tabia and Anas Edathodika rise to the occasion checking Asif K and Vineet’s moves. Othallo’s header came just in time with unmarked David on his shoulder.
Eleven minutes from the breather, Arata finally earned reward for his hard work in a well worked out move. Caitano Costa floated a free kick to Karma, who did well to draw out a defender and play to Keita. The striker in turn laid it up for Arata to slot home.
Into added time of the first half and Keita missed getting a touch from close after Gurjinder sent in a measured free kick. Subash then had a header glance across after Karma did the spadework.
Sitting comfortable with a 3-0 advantage, Pune FC in the second came under pressure, Sukhwinder Singh’s free kick into the box had Subrata and Sunday go for the high ball. Sunday managed to get to the ball first which left Vineet with an attempt he could not control.
At the other end a collision between the Chirag Kerala ’keeper and Keita briefly held up play.
Striker Sunday then utilised asif’s cross to fire over from long.
Forced on the defensive, Pune FC broke free with Keita’s attempt saved by the keeper, which resulted in the rebound for Subash who ended up colliding with the custodian as he went for the tap.
While Karma was excellent on the flank all through, the Pune FC strikers had abundant chances created including one by Keita in the 71st minute, which ended up with a uncalled for offside.
The closest chance the home team got was when David Sunday’s header crashed the post, before defender Charles Dzisah capatalised on a deflection off a free kick to buldge the side netting.
The Kerala side once again went all out to dominate a brief period mid-way into the second half with Vineet, Pradeep Mohanraj going over.
In return, Keita went close after collecting pass that Douhou supplied following a clearance from a corner kick, which Douhou picked up.
Two yellow cards (added to Subash Singh’s) in a span of three minutes to Gurjinder (sloppy challenge) and Anas (dissent) defined the rest of the period, with Sukhwinder Singh’s long-range effort forcing a save out of Subrata in injury time summing up proceedings.
Sunday 1st April, 2012, 3:30 PM
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi