Salgaocar and Pune FC shared honours in the opening match of this year’s Hero I-League. Anthony D’Souza gave the away side the lead in the first half which was cancelled in the closing stages of the match by Salgaocar’s Gilbert Oliveira.
The Goans hosted Pune FC at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa, in the inaugural match of the league. It was a re-match of the Federation Cup tie which happened 10 days back at the same venue. On that occasion, Salgaocar thrashed the Pune outfit 3-1.
Pune dominated the first half
Pune FC dominated the first half of the match, creating more chances. Karim Bencherifa fielded two forwards in the form of Ryuji Sueoka and Thongkhosiem Haokip from the beginning and chose to rest their newly acquired marquee player Drako Nikac. The captain of the away side, Izumi Arata worked hard in the center of the midfield and he was the epicenter of all the chances created by Pune.
Pune got a chance to go ahead in the match as early as in the 6th minute when Anthony D’Souza’s free-kick was handled by Rosario inside the penalty box. The referee made no mistake and pointed towards the spot. Sueoka took the penalty, but the Indian national team goalkeeper Subrata Pal pulled off a spectacular save and kept the scores level.
Salgaocar too attacked in phases, but the absence of a positive striker was evident. Derrick Pereira missed his star forward Daryl Duffy who was ruled out of the game due to an injury. Pune finally broke the deadlock in the dying minutes of the first half when Anthony D’Souza ran down the left flank and scored a brilliant goal from an acute angle. The shot gave Subrata Pal no chance and the away side went in leading at half-time.
Salgaocar lucky to get a late equaliser
Salgaocar started the second half with a positive mindset and played more attacking football than the first half. Periera even brought in Gilbert Oliveira in place of Brian Mascarenhas to add some much-needed flair to their attack. The teams mostly battled it out in the middle of the pitch with both teams unable to create any actual opportunity.
Finally in the 80th minute of the second half, substitute Gilbert Oliveira restored parity for Salgaocar from Douhou Pierre’s pass. The goal was practically gifted by the Pune FC defenders who failed to clear a feeble ball inside the penalty box. Douhou could have scored the goal himself, but he unselfishly chose to pass it to Oliveira, who beat Amrinder Singh with ease.
In a desperate situation, Bencherifa had to bring on his marquee player Nikac in place of Haokip, but the Montenegro national team striker failed to make any mark in his maiden appearance.