Pune FC held at home by USFC
The host’s had themselves to blame for not forcing a win after striker Jeje Lalpekhlua wasted a penalty-kick in the second half.
Pune FC had striker James Moga net a brace (1st and 68th), while USFC got their goals from the efforts of DG Attivi (25th) and Safar Sardar (27th) to take the lead in first half.
The draw took Pune FC’s tally to 10 points, while USFC went up to 5.
Striker Moga gave Pune FC the best possible start his team could have expected by putting the home side in the driving seat after 14 seconds. The striker headed a long ball from defender Gurjinder Kumar in a three-touch effort.
But as the home side settled, USFC silenced the crowd by pulled one back midway through the first-half when DG Attivi’s scorcher from 30-yards beat Pune FC custodian Shahinlal Meloly in the air to find the net.
USFC went 2-1 up couple minutes later when Safar’s long range effort beat Shahin once again. The striker, on a counter, hit a grounder from 25-yards out aimed at the far post. The ball’s direction and speed beat Shahinlal’s outstretched dive to the right.
At the other end, Pune FC continued pressing their opponents but failed in the final third. United Sikkim, however employed counter-attacking techniques to the best. USFC’s Nadong Bhutia got into the clear after defender Caitano Costa’s failed clearance, but his shot from inside the box went wide.
A minute later, Attivi’s shot from 35-yards hit the cross bar as the home side went into the break trailing 1-2.
The second half was a different story as Pune FC attacked from the word go. Being a goal down, the home side pressed every move from the opponent.
Pune FC were handed a lifeline to equalise seven minutes into the second half. USFC’s defender handled the ball inside the box in a melee and the referee pointed to the spot. Striker Jeje stepped up for the kick, but his poor penalty was easily saved by USFC ‘keeper Monotosh Ghosh.
Midway through the second half, striker Moga completed his brace when he equalised in the 68th minute. The striker beat a defender on top of the box on the right and unleashed a strike to the far post beating the keeper.
It was all Pune FC thereafter. Minutes later, Jeje’s header from 6-yards out was blocked on the goalline by the ‘keeper after he did well to connect substitute Nikhi Kadam’s cross from the left.
Six minutes later, Moga in the clear inside the box directed his header wide after connecting Gurjinder Kumar’s cross in from the left.
Into added time, Karma failed to connect a cross from striker Moga on the left with the goal-mouth at his mercy.