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U20 I-League: Pune emerge victorious in the 'Maha-Derby', brighten title chances
Pune FC continued their domination registering three wins out of three matches by thrashing Mumbai FC 4-0 in the Under-20 I-League (Final Phase) here in Kalyani, near Kolkata on Sunday.
The victory takes Pune FC to 9 points from 3 games and gives Pune the sole lead at the top of the six-team table.
A first-half double from Nikhil Kadam (37th and 39th minute) and strikes from substitutes David Lalbiakzara (69th minute) and Deepak Kumar (90+4th minute) helped Pune FC to their 7th consecutive win in the League beginning from the group stage.
Pune FC didn’t waste much time to get into the game and piled up attacks on the rival goal from the word go. Gobin Singh opened with a shot straight into the ’keeper from 30-yards. A minute later Pune FC custodian Amrinder Singh was alert to keep out an attempt from the rivals when they brilliantly switched play to create an opportunity out of nothing.
Five minutes later, Pune FC had couple of close chances. First, Larempuia was denied by the ‘keeper and was followed by a Gobin Singh strike that went wide.
The 40 degree temperature and high humidity were taking its toll on the players as the tempo of play was reduced significantly, but that did not keep Pune FC from pushing.
Mumbai FC took time to settle. In one move they threatened and needed an alert Surjit Singh to block a shot on a counter to keep the scoreboard clean.
Pune FC had their best chance in the 20th minute. Abung Meetie penetrated into the box and cut back for striker Thongkhosiem Haokip whose shot was blocked. The rebound fell for Abung, but his shot was tipped over by the Mumbai custodian.
Halfway through the first period, William fell short in giving Pune FC the lead. Nikhil with a run down the left flank sent in a nice cross to the box. William completely misjudged the ball, where an easy tap-in was needed. Suji, following up, was in the right place to get the loose ball, but failed to get a shot.
On the half hour mark, Ranjan Singh was on his toes to deny Mumbai again. Five minutes later, David Lalbiakzara replaced Suji Kumar, who ended his day out in the open while trying to connect a header and instead ended up knocked.
Into the 37th minute and Pune FC went one-up. Lalrempuia sent Nikhil clear into the space upfront with a neat through ball. Nikhil brilliantly cut past three defenders to unleash a strike past the ’keeper to the near post.
Two minutes later Nikhil scored another to put Pune FC 2-0 up. It was deja-vu as Lalrempuia was once again the creator. Lalrempuia sent a long ball to Nikhil, fast approaching the rival box. Nikhil did well to control and slot it into the roof from a tight angle.
At half time it was advantage Pune FC.
On resumption, Mumbai took charge and piled up attacks within the Pune FC box, only for some excellent defending which kept them at bay.
Eight minutes into the half, Haokip and David combined to create an opportunity. Haokip got past the defense and laid off a volley for David, whose shot went inches wide.
Mumbai FC were getting frustrated and it reflected in the tackles. Two rough challenges on Lalrempuia and Abung within a space of five minutes.
David Lalbiakzara increased Pune FC’s advantage in the 67th minute with a cheeky back-heel. Substitute striker Deepak Kumar sent in a looping cross to the box. The crowded Mumbai defense’s hesitance to clear the ball saw David sneak past all in the clear and end up with a clever back-heel flick past the ’keeper.
With a three-goal cushion, Pune FC went fully into the offensive mode. Winger David eager to double his tally had a couple of chances. One cleared by the defense and the other going wide.
Into the final ten minutes, Pune FC had back-to-back attempts on the goal through Deepak and Abung. The Mumbai custodian produced his best deny Pune FC.
Couple of minutes later Mumbai attacked in succession from right. Some good ‘keeping by Amrinder Singh kept Mumbaikars at bay.
Deep into added time, striker Deepak Kumar drilled the final nail into Mumbai FC’s coffin. On a break, substitute Karthik pounced onto a defensive slip up and after some good control, played a through ball to Deepak who produced a sublime finish on the run.
Starting XI: Amrinder Singh (GK); Ranjan Singh, Surjit Singh, Kamardeep Singh, Gobin Singh, Sujie Kumar (Capt.) (36′; David Lalbiakzara), F Lalrempuia, Abung Meetie, Nikhil Kadam, William L (59′; Deepak Kumar), Thongkhosiem Haokip (90+1′; Karthik)
Unused Subs: Bhushan Patil (GK), R Shivram, Janak Kudmal, Anuj Negi