I-League: Sporting Clube de Goa 4-0 Pune FC; Home side escape relegation as visitors finish 5th
Fatorda (Goa), May 30 (IANS)
Pune FC ended their campaign in the I-League football competition in the fifth place following a 4-0 defeat to Sporting Clube de Goa at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday.
The result meant that Pune (29 points) finished the season in the fifth place, level on points with fourth-placed East Bengal (29 pts), but behind on goal difference. Meanwhile, Sporting Goa claimed the eighth spot with 23 points from the full quota of 20 matches.
In this crucial round-22 encounter, a hat-trick from Nigerian striker Odafa Okolie (27th, 68th, 93rd minute) and a goal from defender Sandesh Jhingan (41st) handed Pune their seventh loss of the season. Incidentally, it was also Pune FC's biggest loss this season as well as their biggest loss against Sporting Goa.
Pune’s strong start fails to set the momentum
As the game began, it was Sporting who had the early chance when striker Odafa got into the box in the very first minute. However, his powerful attempt from close was saved by keeper Amrinder Singh.
After soaking some pressure, Pune began pushing forward and almost took the lead in the 16th minute when Arata Izumi's curling free-kick in from the left flank found an unmarked Thongkhosiem Haokip right in front of the goal. However, the youngster failed to get a clean shot.
As Pune continued to push up with intent, a rash challenge at the back from defender Srikanth Ramu on Alber Gonsavles handed Sporting a penalty kick that was converted from the spot by Odafa to give Sporting a 1-0 lead.
However, Pune continued to attack the rival goal, but poor defending cost them again as Sporting scored their second in the 41st minute. Brandon Fernandes's curling corner in from the right was controlled and volleyed home by Jhingan to make it 2-0.
Sporting made the most of Pune’s poor defending
At the start of the second half, Pune brought in Nikhil Kadam in place of Darko Nikac to add more firepower up front. The move made a difference immediately as Nikhil created a great chance two minutes in but to no avail.
Midway through the half, once again poor defending cost Pune as Odafa completed his brace. Mahmoud Amna picked up the ball and sent Odafa clear. The Nigerian striker held off a challenge from Ranjan Choudhary on the edge of the box, rounded off Amrinder and slotted home from close to make it 3-0.
Into the final moments of the game, Odafa completed his hat-trick as he ran clear controlling a lob pass in the Pune half and slotted home from close to seal the game 4-0 in favour of Sporting Goa.