ISL: FC Pune City take maximum points in the Maharashtra derby
Over a dozen missed chances, a missed penalty, a disallowed goal and lots more. This is how match number 48 of the Indian Super League (ISL) panned out between FC Pune City and Mumbai City FC.
The last time the two teams from Maharashtra met in the state derby it led to a debacle of sorts for Pune. They were left to answer some very hard questions about their passing as well as defence. But this time around there was no repeat of Mumbai's previous heroics. Missing their star players Nicolas Anelka and Andre Moritz, it was going to be an uphill task for the away team to repeat the magic of their previous encounter.
Pune's dominance; Mumbai's late resurgence
And that was evident. Pune began the match with unprecedented aggression. From Kwang Park Il's darting runs ahead to Vadocz and Katsouranis' shots that were being lobbied off by Mumbai's custodian Subrata Pal. In fact, Pune had repeated shots saved by the Mumbai custodian in the 22nd, 26th, 27th and the 31st minutes. Mumbai were forced into an early change when Peter Costa got injured and they had to bring in Didika to replace him.
The replacement had an immediate impact as Mumbai forced Arindam into making a couple of saves, and almost punishing Pune for all their missed chances. He almost immediately forced Arindam into making a good save which resulted in a corner for Mumbai. Even though the danger was seen off, it was a stark reminder of how funny a game football is and how all it takes is that one chance to make a dominant opposition pay. The first half can be summed up from the fact that Pune's attacking index in the first two quarters were 78 and 92 percent respectively. That fell to 28 percent for the rest of the half.
Pune looked to attack with every move ahead. The passing for once looked solid. On the other hand, Peter Reid's men tried hard to defend and keep the ball out of the goal and attack on the counter but to no avail. The first half ended with lost chances for Pune and with Mumbai finding form in the dying moments of the game.
Mumbai failed to punish Pune
In the opening minute of the second half, Mumbai were awarded a penalty by referee Baldomero Toledo when Didika’s cross hit Pritam’s hand. Tiago stepped up to take the spot kick but failed to find drive or power and his meek effort was saved by Arindam, who dove to his right. The Pune custodian punched his fists in the air and was screaming post the save, and the crowd went wild after the save that prevented the home side from going behind.
Post the lost chance, Pune regrouped and found their form from the first half and began attacking Mumbai's defences and even managed to breach them time and again. In the 53rd minute, Kristian Vadocz's scored a goal off a rebound ball only to be denied after the referee decided it was a hand-ball. While the huge Hungarian collapsed to the ground in disbelief, Pune's efforts only continued to double and with greater intensity.
Pune silences neighbours, critics
It took Pune 66 minutes, to break the deadlock. Kostas who was constantly running up the flanks managed to send a great ball in from the left flank only to find the charismatic Dudu waiting for the ball. He latched onto the shot and drilled the ball past Subrata Pal to send the audience into a screaming frenzy.
Even though Pune scored the first goal, they were not out of the woods yet. There was always a danger of either Didika or Subhash running into the Pune half to be denied by Cirillo or Wadoo. For all their on field domination, Pune was well aware of the fact that in order to seal the game they would need to score once again. And if Dudu's first goal was a bullet his second showed his deftness in getting the job done.
In the 80th minute of the game, Katsouranis once again drilled the ball towards the goal and while it went by past both, the Mumbai custodian and defenders, it found Dudu, who placed the ball into the back of the net with a delightful back heel, in perhaps what could be termed as the cheekiest goal of the season.
Such was the finesse of the goal that it took the audience in the stadium a good couple of seconds to figure out what had happened. Of course the cheering post the goal continued well past the 93rd minute of the game, which announced Pune's re-entry into the top four, with Mumbai continuing to reside at the bottom of the table.
In hindsight, there can be multiple theories as to what went wrong for Peter Reid's team. Perhaps it was the midfield, which didn't find its footing from the previous game or the missed penalty, or just that they were all over the place. Whatever it was it didn't help their cause and the game ended with the scoreline reading two goals for the home team and none for their state rivals, Mumbai.