Pune FC go down 0-3 to Hanoi T&T FC
Pune FC’s dream of making it into the AFC Champions League Group-Stage came to an end with a 0-3 defeat to Vietnamese-side Hanoi T&T FC.
Second-half strikes from defender Sam Gallagher (52nd minute), substitute Nguyen Van Quyet (71st) and midfielder Hector Vaghaun (83rd) saw Hanoi through to the next round of the ACL Play-Offs.
The result now means Pune FC will play in the Group-H of the AFC Cup beginning later in February.
Coach Mike Snoei made two changes to the starting lineup from the previous game handing starts to medio Arata Izumi and right-back Othallo Tabia in place of James Meyer and Zeeshan Rahman.
After half chances at either end in the opening quarter, Pune FC had the first best chance of the match in the 19th minute.
After winger Anthony D’Souza managed to get into the clear on the left, he drilled a low shot which the Hanoi keeper Nguyen Van Cong parried away. The rebound however fell for Gabriel Fernandes who continued run inside the box. With the ball awkwardly falling for the Goan he failed to finish from close range.
Minutes later Gabriel’s shot from the right was once again blocked by the defence after striker Riga Mustapha sent him in the clear.
At the other end, Pune FC custodian Amrinder Singh kept the visitors at bay with two back-to-back saves denying attackers Pham Thanh Luong and Nguyen Ngoc Duy.
Both sides failed to break the deadlock going into the breather tied at goalless.
The second half saw Pune FC once again going close in the early exchanges. Arata saw his cross in from the right cleared followed by Dhanpal Ganesh’s low shot straight into the keeper.
Thereafter, Hanoi took charge of the proceedings and scored the opener seven minutes after restart. Australian defender Gallagher jumped the highest inside the box and headed home Thanh Luong’s corner in from the left.
Three minutes later, Snoei made the first change bringing in attacker Meyer in place of Ganesh.
At the other end, Pune FC kept on pressing ahead in search of the equaliser but were let down by the finishing in the final third.
Moments later, Pune FC had another chance to get back into the game. After Riga was fouled a couple of yards outside the box, the home side earned a freekick. However, defender Calum Angus’s indirect attempt on the lay-off was blocked by the on rishing defenders.
Eight minutes later, it was Riga who once again saw his attempt deflected for a corner after combining well with Gabriel down the right.
As Pune FC pushed ahead, the visitors doubled their lead on a counter midway through the half, as once again the home-defense was caught napping. Hector, clear on the left, did well to chip a cross into the box and Van Quyet timed his run to perfection and headed in from close range.
Pune FC, thereafter, made two quick changes replacing Arata and Douhou with Thongkhosiem Haokip and Lalrempuia Fanai in the final quarter.
With a two-goal lead to protect, Hanoi fell back and began defending deep not allowing any ball to penetrate. This led to Pune FC’s attacking trio of Gabriel, Riga and Anthony being frustrated as their efforts went a begging.
Into the final ten minutes, the visitors scored once more against the run of play. Sent into the clear on the left by Nguyen Hong Tuien, Hector’s outside of the boot shot from the left wing ended up in the net on the far side leaving custodian Amrinder Singh helpless.
Late into the game, Pune FC had Riga and Meyer go close from the edge of the box only for the attempts to sail wide.