Pune FC go down fighting to Bengaluru FC 0-2
Pune FC went down fighting 0-2 to Bengaluru FC in an I-League Round-18 encounter at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi on Tuesday.
First half strikes from Shankar Sampangiraj (1st minute) and CK Vineeth (44th) handed Pune FC their second consecutive loss at home.
The fourth loss of the season also meant Pune FC (23 pts) dropped down to the 4th place in the standings as Bengaluru FC (25 pts) moved up to third.
Going into the game, Pune FC Coach Karim Bencherifa made four changes handing starts to Nikhil Kadam, Lalramluaha Hmar, Zohmingliana Ralte and Thongkhosiem Haokip.
Pune FC had the worst possible start to the game conceding in the very first minute. A quick move on the left straight from kick off had Eugeneson Lyngdoh cross in to attacker Shankar who flicked it into the goal from close range in front of Pune FC keeper Amrinder Singh.
Having conceded early on, Pune FC tried to settle in and push up. However, some poor touches in the final third let them down on multiple occasions.
Finally at the quarter hour mark, Pune FC created a close chance with defender Munmun Lugun floating in a cross from the left flank. The ball sailed across the goal to Lalrempuia Fanai at the far post, but the youngster’s powerful header went way wide.
A minute later, Nikhil skipped past a host of defenders from the left and set up Arata Izumi outside the box. However, the midfielder’s powerful shot was blocked by the Bengaluru FC defense.
Pune FC began dominating the proceedings and had a flurry of attacks. In the 24th minute, Pune FC almost pulled level. Nikhil played a quick one-two with playmaker Ryuji Sueoka outside the box to get clear inside the box. The youngster tried to round off the rival keeper and slot home but his effort was blocked by Lalthuammawia Ralte.
While Bengaluru FC attacked on counters, Pune FC continued to push up and created chance after chance. In the 35th minute, defender Zohmingliana Ralte’s dangerous cross in from the right was met well by Haokip but the header lacked direction.
As the first half came to an end, Bengaluru FC capitalised on a defensive lapse and increased their lead. Winger Vineeth combined with Beikhokhei Beingaichho on the right and blasted home from inside the box to give the visitors a 2-0 lead going into the breather.
Coach Bencherifa made a double change at the start of the second half bringing in Srikanth Ramu and Edgar Marcelino in place of Anas Edathodika and Nikhil Kadam.
Immediately after the restart, Arata almost pulled one back for Pune FC when his header on a cross in from the right came off the crossbar in the 48th minute .
While Bengaluru FC opted to move forward on counter attacks, Pune FC created moves from the midfield but were falling short in the final third.
Around the hour mark, Pune FC had a couple of close chances. First defender Srikanth cut in from the right flank and let fly from distance but his effort sailed just wide. Minutes later, Haokip managed to get a header on Edgar’s chipped cross from the right only for it to go wide.
At the other end, Bengaluru FC went close but Lyngdoh who got into the clear inside the box was denied in a one-on-one situation by Amrinder Singh with a brilliant save.
Into the final quarter, substitute Prakash Thorat, on for Haokip, had a brilliant chance to pull one back for Pune FC. The Pune-born striker got clear into the box with some quick feet but blasted his effort straight into the keeper from close range.
Both sides created a few chances in the final ten minutes but found it hard to penetrate into the box. In the dying minutes of the game, Pune FC had one last chance when Edgar set up Prakash with a brilliant through ball down the middle only for the rival keeper to rush out and intercept as the game ended 0-2 in favour of the visitors.
Pune FC: Amrinder (GK), Luciano, Anas (C) (46’; Srikanth), Ralte, Munmun, Lalrempuia, Arata, Nikhil (46’; Edgar), Lalramluaha, Haokip (72’; Prakash), Sueoka
Unused Subs: Arup (GK), Mathew, Snehashis, Rocha
Bengaluru FC: Ralte (GK), Curtis, Johnson, Rooney (54’; Chhetri), Walker, Anto (C), Lyngdoh, Shankar (89’; Thoi), Beikhokhei, Lalchhuanmawia, Vineeth (75’; Udanta)
Unused Subs: Pawan (GK), Gurtej, Siam, Keegan
PFC: Lalramluaha Hmar 82’