In a closely contested encounter which was dominated by the Red Lizards for long, points were shared...
Mike Snoei looked to put the Federaton Cup disappointment behind them as he started with Fanai Lalrempuia and Haokip upfront supported on the wings by Anthony D'Souza and Gabriel Fernandes while the ever dependable Calum Angus at the back with Zohmingliana Ralte filling in for Anas Edathodika.
The high flying Sporting Clube de Goa did not have dynamic midfielder Arturo Garcia who has been released by the club after having picked up a knee injury.
The match started with both teams trying to establish their supremacy in midfield with Douhou Pierre calling the shots as he really dictated play for almost the entirety of the match. In the first ten minutes itself the neat interplay between Douhou and Anthony almost carved the Sporting defense open. If not for Puia's header which went over, Pune would have run away with the lead in no time.
Both teams had a chance to take the lead in the 16th minute when Ogba Kalu's powerful drive went just over the bar before Puia again headed over from a swerving Angus delivery.
The Flaming Oranje stood strong as crosses were peppered into the box by both Anthony and Gabriel but were not utilized by the forwards who were always second to the ball.
In what was a classic sucker punch, Beevan D'Mello gave Oscar Bruzon's boys the lead just about five minutes before half time as he took advantage of Ralte's slip and smashed a left footed drive from the edge of the box.
After the break, it was Pune who went all guns blazing and were suitably rewarded in the 56th minute when Haokip found the net, heading in a peach of a delivery from Anthony. Ogba Kalu spurned a glorious opportunity at the other end to regain the lead almost immediately following the restart as he shot just over.
It was Anthony who could have extended Pune's lead in the 63rd minute when his thundering drive had the Sporting goalkeeper well beaten and it took the crossbar to save the day for Sporting.
Cajetan Fernandes had an effort from 25 yards in the 75th minute which was just over but it seemed both teams were content to play out a draw. This leaves Pune occupying the third spot while Sporting failed to go level with Bengaluru at the top.
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