Pune FC bounced back from their shoddy domestic form to go out of the AFC Cup in style as they managed to defeat group leaders, Kitchee SC 2-0 to secure their first win in Asia..
Pune FC secured their first ever win in continental competition when they beat Hong Kong champions, Kitchee SC 2-0 in a Group H encounter in the AFC Cup at Pune.
Zohmingliana Ralte was the man of the moment as he scored a late brace (74', 80') minute to earn his side the win against a tricky opposition. Amrinder Singh too put in a brilliant performance in between the sticks as he made a crucial double save, keeping Juan Belencoso's initial penalty and rebound out. He thus atoned for his own error after he had brought down Lam ka Wai in the box.
With injuries and suspensions to deal with, Coach Mike Snoei made four changes to the starting lineup handing starts to Mirjan Pavlovic, Prakash Thorat, Dhanpal Ganesh and Salam Ranjan Singh.
It was the visitors who carved out the first decent chance as Jorge Torres was inches wide from giving his side the lead, but could only hit the side netting.
The home team had a chance in the 22nd minute when Anthony D'Souza put in a brilliant cross which was just headed over by Ralte. Five minutes later, Gurjinder Kumar sent in his cross hopelessly wide as he had at least two Red shirts in the box to aim at.
The Red Lizards could very well be ahead in the first half itself when Anthony D'Souza's freekick was inches high.
It was then Amrinder who produced a smart double save to keep the game goal less. He first blocked To Hon To's powerful shot and then produced a good save off Chan Man Fai's header from close range.
Amrinder kept his side in the game as he pulled off a great save as the second half got underway to deny Belencoso from scoring a stunning goal after he had volleyed it on the turn.
Pune were guilty of wasting yet another chance as Mustapha Riga could only find the side netting after Lester Fernandez had found him unmarked.
Pune FC's dominance finally paid off as they took the lead in the 74th minute. Right-back Ralte’s scored with a thumping header at the far post from Anthony’s corner kick.
The home side’s celebrations were cut short as Kitchee were handed a lifeline a minute later at the other end. After Amrinder brought down Lam Ka Wai inside the box, the referee pointed to the spot. However, Amrinder made up for his mistake saving Belencoso’s penalty kick and blocking the rebound from Tarres.
It was Lester this time who turned provider as his corner was headed in again by that man, Ralte who completed his brace in the 80th minute.
In spite of the win which allowed them to end their AFC Cup campaign on a high, Pune FC ended rock bottom in Group H with only 6 points.