I-League: Ralte's goal helps Pune FC defeat Shillong Lajong 1-0
Shillong, May 24 (IANS) Pune Football Club (FC) recorded a stunning 1-0 win and completed a double over Shillong Lajong in an I-League encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Sunday.
An early goal from defender Zohmingliana Ralte in the fifth minute handed Pune FC their second consecutive and eighth overall win in the campaign. Moreover, the victory was also Pune FC's third over Lajong this season having previously beaten them in the Federation Cup in December 2014 and in I-League in January.
The three points earned took Pune FC's tally to 29 points from 19 games as they stay fifth in the 11-team league, behind East Bengal (29 points) on goal difference.
Pune FC had the perfect start, taking the lead in the fifth minute. Arata's in-swinging delivery on a corner-kick from the left flank put Lajong custodian Kunzang Bhutia under pressure. With the keeper failing to clear the ball, Ralte capitalised to head home from close range after the ball came off the woodwork for his first goal of the season.
Having taken the lead, Pune FC continued to push ahead and created a couple of more close chances in the following 10 minutes but failed to convert.
At the other end, hosts Lajong also had a few half chances but Pune held on strongly.
The second half began with both sides battling out hard in the midfield. Half chances fell for both Pune FC and Lajong but some poor finishing meant the scoreline stayed unchanged.
Ten minutes into the second half, Pune FC suffered a blow when defender Ralte had to be taken off after suffering an injury. He was replaced by youngster Salam Ranjan Singh to partner Luciano in defence.
Minutes later, Pune FC went close once again. After soaking pressure, Pune FC regained possession and moved ahead on a quick counter attack. Playmaker Ryuji Sueoka did well to find Ishfaq clear on the left, who controlled and sent in a cross which went straight to the keeper.
Meanwhile, Lajong had a few more chances in the final five minutes but the Pune FC defence managed to hold on for a hard earned win.