Baljit Sahni could have once again turned villain for FC Pune City as he handled the ball inside the box in the second half. Luckily for him, neither the referee not the linesman possibly saw the incident and Pune survived. The former JCT player was red carded in the second half when these two sides met in Pune at a time when the Orange and Purple team were on the ascendancy and had Bengaluru sweating.
Yes, Marcelinho should have been sent-off for the atrocious tackle on Subashish Bose in the first half. The referee missed it and once again Pune would thank their stars.
However, apart from those two incidents, it was the visitors who created the better goal scoring opportunities and threatened going forward, especially in the first half. Rahul Bheke’s clearance came off Diego Carlos, who didn’t have the best of games, and Marcelinho, Emiliano Alfaro combined to find Sarthak Golui who applied the finishing touch.
Mind you, this is a player who was the third choice right-back for Mohun Bagan last year and came into prominence after he was picked in the India team for the AFC U23 Championships last year. The manner in which he has adapted to playing as a right winger is commendable given that he is pre-dominantly a right-sided centre-back.
The manner in which Udanta Singh was made to look an ordinary winger only highlighted how good young Sahil Panwar is. Interestingly, the 18-year-old was on the radar for Luis Norton’s Indian Arrows but Ranko Popovic, who has been one of the most impressive coaches in the ISL this season, assured that the left-back would get minutes in the ISL and hence, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) didn’t pursue him any further.
The midfield battle was won by Adil Khan and Marcos Tebar before the former was shifted to the centre-back’s role in the second half. This was after Gurtej Singh picked up a knock and had to be substituted. In came Rohit Kumar, which tilted the midfield battle in favour of Bengaluru as all of a sudden, Dimas Delgado found more space to pick his passes.
Despite all of Bengaluru’s possession, it was Pune who had more shots on target. Both Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Vishal Kaith made crucial saves for their respective sides in what was an entertaining game.
Miku once again showed why he is the highest paid player in this edition of the ISL. His predatory instincts are second to none. Although Bengaluru fans would complain that he could have scored the winner towards the end, the Venezuelan’s class in the final third is evident. Kaith made a brilliant save to deny him a goal earlier in the second half from a corner as well.
It’s unlikely that these two teams will play each other in the play-offs. However for the neutrals, you would want these sides to face-off over two legs.
While Bengaluru are an experienced and well drilled unit capable of playing in varied styles and formations, Pune have some of the best youngsters in India coupled with great individual attacking talent.
One would hope that there would be no red cards or injuries to either side so that one gets to watch both teams at their best and in full flow.