Romaric scored a stunning free kick as North East United beat FC Pune City 1-0 in Tuesday’s hostile Indian Super League encounter. The victory finally put an end to the home side’s six-game winless streak and catapulted them into sixth position with 14 points after 11 games.
Pune on the other hand, remain in fourth position having played a game more than the Highlanders.
#1 Pune wasteful in first half
With so much to play for, the away side failed to display any intent in the opening forty-five minutes. FC Pune City were, in fact, scrappy, and their passes wayward. When they did get the opportunity to mount some pressure, they fluffed their chances. The first real opening of the match fell to Lucca as the ball kindly rolled onto his path, inside the box. The Brazilian only had the keeper to beat, but his shot zipped way wide of the mark.
Minutes later, Lucca turned supplier- his well-taken corner found Eduardo inside the penalty area. The defender failed to connect his head on the ball despite being completely unmarked. Antonio Habas’ men could have easily put the game to bed within the first 30 minutes of the match.
#2 Mohamed Sissoko manhandles Velez
The final minutes of the first half were ill-tempered, to say the least. Romaric was the first to lose his cool and went head on to confront Pune coach, Antonio Habas’, who he felt was talking a tad too much from the sidelines.
Tempers flared once again as both sides were engulfed in a brawl after Alfaro was brought down in the box. The referee decided to play on, but Velez was having none of it as he attempted to influence the referee.
The diminutive Argentine then squared up with Mohamed Sissoko. The African manhandled Velez and threw him to the ground amidst all the pandemonium in the middle of the park. Luckily for him, the referee failed to spot it clearly and ended up handing only a yellow card to the former Juventus midfielder.
#3 NorthEast denied two possible penalties
Throughout the course of this Indian Super League season, the referees have been under the radar for their subpar decision-making skills. Tonight was no different.
The man from New Zealand failed to award two possible penalties to the home side. Gouramangi Singh and Alfaro were the men at the centre of it all on both the occasions.
The North East United striker danced his way past Singh and just as he was about to unleash his shot, Gourmangi lashed his foot across the Uruguayan and brought him down. In almost a carbon copy of the first incident, Alfaro got on the wrong side of the centre back inside the box. Once again, the man from Manipur lunged into a dangerous tackle and got no part of the ball in the process.
The referee was reluctant to point to the spot on either occasion for reasons unknown.
#4 Romaric scores a gorgeous free kick
Up until the 80th minute of the match, both sides were uninspiring in their approach in what was a mostly drab encounter. But Romaric turned the tables with a stunning free kick much to the relief of his coach, Nelo Vingada.
Pune’s Eduardo handled the ball in a dangerous area, and the referee had no option but to blow his whistle. From around 25 yards out, the Ivorian curled in a sublime effort with his left foot.
It would have been tough for him to get the ball over and above the wall from such a short distance. Instead, he cleverly aimed for the Bete's near post as the keeper found himself moving in the wrong direction. The ball nestled right into the top left corner.
#5 Jonatan Lucca was unable to influence the match
The defensive midfielder is most often than not, the first name on Pune’s team sheet. He’s played every single match for his side this season. But on the night, he was largely ineffective. The Brazilian failed to get on the ball as much as he would have liked. As a result, Pune looked devoid of ideas when they moved forward with the ball.
The usually incisive Lucca found it arduous to unlock North East United’s watertight defence. He was outnumbered in midfield as the home side did a fantastic job in keeping him away from the action.
FC Pune City could have moved to within one point of the league leaders, had they won tonight. Instead, they now find themselves in a do or die situation with two games remaining.
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