Mohammedan Sporting 1-3 Pune FC: Red Lizards kick-start their campaign in style
The Kolkata outfit were made to pay for a clutch of missed chances as they succumbed to an opening day defeat...
By Kaustav Bera
Pune FC, who were a man down for the final quarter of the game, started their 2013-14 I-League season on a positive note as they thrashed Mohammedan Sporting 3-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.
Josimar da Silva gave the home side the lead in the 11th minute which was cancelled out by Raul Fabiani five minutes later. In the second half, goals from James Meyer and Fabiani sealed the three points for the Pune-based outfit.
Mohammedan coach Aziz Moshood elected to start with Josimar da Silva and Tolgay Ozbey upfront with Penn Orji playing in the hole behind the two strikers.
For the away side, Mike Snoei elected to field his three new recruits, namely James Meyer, Raul Fabiani and Callum Angus while Douhou Pierre was benched.
The kick-off was delayed for close to 30 minutes as the organisers failed to fulfill the mandatory requirement of having two ambulances on the ground.
There were chances galore as the two teams started at a furious pace. It was new Pune recruit, Fabiani whose speculative cross from the left flank found an onrushing James Meyer but the latter could not connect properly as his shot just went wide.
Two minutes later at the other end, it was Ajay Singh of Mohammedan who was clean through on goal, only for an alert Amrinder Singh in the Pune FC goal to come collect the ball.
The away side had yet another chance in the seventh minute when Arata Izumi wriggled past the attention of Gagandeep Singh but his shot from an acute angle was easily parried away by Somnath Khara in goal.
It took eleven minutes for the first goal in the I-League and it was the home team who scored with Josimar da Silva peeling off his marker and getting at the end of a Gagandeep long ball. He did brilliantly to head the ball out of the path of the oncoming Amrinder in goal before calmly slotting it into an empty net.
They could have easily doubled the lead only three minutes later after Josimar showed tremendous awareness to backheel the ball to Ajay Singh who had continued his run after passing it to the Brazilian. With Tolgay Ozbey free at the far post, Ajay tried to side foot the ball past Amrinder instead of picking out the Australian, only to see it go agonizingly wide.
They had to pay for this as Pune FC struck back almost immediately through none other than the tall Fabiani who was the fastest to the rebound after Nikhil Kadam’s initial shot had rattled off the post.
In the 31st minute, Josimar was at it again as he pulled off about half a dozen stepovers before cutting in and letting loose a shot only to see it being blocked. From the ensuing corner, Tolgay was almost free to pull the trigger but he failed to react in time.
Three minutes later, it was Fabiani again as the big striker displayed terrific skill to hold up his marker on the left corner flag just to backflick the ball through Colin Abranches’ legs towards Gurjinder Kumar who had made a late run. While his first shot could only be parried by Khara in goal, he held it for the second time after Gurjinder got a second chance.
Mohammedan had a gilt-edged chance in first half injury time as Tolgay had found himself in acres of space down the left with only the goalkeeper to beat. Instead of picking out Ajay Singh who was clear down the right, the former Mohun Bagan forward decided to pull the trigger himself straight onto the path of Amrinder whose parry fell for Josimar whose weak shot was finally saved by the custodian.
It was an electrifying start to the second half as whatever Mike Snoei had said seemed to have worked wonders as they got the lead for the first time, six minutes after the restart.
It was Fabiani again who turned provider this time around holding off three defenders on the left before squaring the ball to an unmarked James Meyer in the box who made no mistake and smashed the ball past a helpless Khara in goal.
Aziz Moshood’s side should have hit back almost immediately as skipper, Dhanarajan found Josimar with acres of space in the six yard box but instead of pulling the trigger, the Brazilian passed the ball to Tolgay whose woeful first touch led to the chance go begging.
Four minutes later, Arata had almost committed hara-kiri as his misplaced back pass was seized by the alert Josimar who attempted to chip Amrinder who had come out, only to see it go slightly over.
Things turned a shade comical in the 76th minute as first Justine Stephen came up with a horror pass to his central defensive partner which was seized by the marauding Fabiani whose low shot beat Khara all ends out before going in the net after striking the far post.
However it became a Laurel and Hardy story then as Fabiani seemingly suffering from momentary amnesia, decided to take off his jersey having forgotten his previous booking for a hand ball and was sent off with a second yellow. An incredible debut for the striker who scored two, assisted one and was also sent off.
Josimar had another chance go begging as his piledriver beat Amrinder all ends up but hit the upright, much to the disappointment of the Mohammedan Sporting players.
The Kolkata outfit would be disappointed having missed out on a number of chances created while Snoiei, though pleased with his strikers, would wonder about his defense given the number of times his goalkeeper was called into action.
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