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Pune FC 0-3 Blackburn Rovers: Spirited Display By Ten Men Pune FC Not Enough As Blackburn Run Away Comfortable Winners
A spirited display from 10 men Pune FC went in vain as Blackburn dominated their way to an easy win...
By Ayush Srivastava
Blackburn Rovers were initially made to work hard by a ten men Pune FC before eventually walking away as comfortable 3-0 winners against the Indian outfit.
Experienced striker Jason Roberts fired a brace with Ruben Rochina’s stunning drive sandwiched in between as a superb display by Pune FC’s second choice keeper Shahinlal Meloly, who produced a masterclass in goal, kept the score down.
The Lancashire outfit created history when they became the first English Premier League outfit to play an exhibition tie in India as they lined up against Pune FC.
In a bid to appease the fans, Blackburn fielded a relatively strong team with several of their top stars on show, led by the attacking triumvirate of Jason Roberts, Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Ruben Rochina.
Pune FC started with their strongest possible line-up, although they were missing Subrata Paul and Mandjou Keita due to injury.
The Lancashire outfit created their first chance within 3 minutes with Mauro Formica shooting just wide after a Yakubu lay-off.
Soon a defensive error led Roberts in but his shot was brilliantly saved by Pune FC keeper Shahinlal Meloly.
Shahinlal Meloly Was Especially Outstanding At The Goal
Steve Kean’s men continued to apply pressure and Pune FC debutant Anas Edathodika got a yellow in the seventh minute for a tackle on Junior Hoilett, and Samba’s header from the ensuing free-kick was cleared by the defence.
The Red Lizards egged on by the home crowd went to the other end and nearly scored when Jeje Lalpekhlua, taking advantage of Gael Givet’s slip set Baldeep Singh up, but the Indian International shot well over the cross bar.
However Pune FC’s task was made harder when Anas got a second yellow for an ill-advised tackle at Formica. Blackburn almost went ahead when from a free-kick, Ruben Rochina saw his shot saved well by Shahinlal.
However the home team seemed undeterred by the loss of their key defenders and continued to frustrate their fancied English opponents.
Chris Samba saw two of his headers saved off the line and another goal bound effort hit Roberts and went off target.
The Blackburn forwards found it a difficult task breaking a very organized 10 man Pune FC outfit with Jason Roberts in particularly frustrated by the excellent duo of stopper back Chika Wali and keeper Shahinlal.
Chika Wali in particular was impressive as the recently re-signed Nigerian threw himself at every shot taken by the Lancashire outfit.
The rains, which then lashed the stadium mid-way through the first half did nothing to brighten the mood of the English outfit as they seemed to be running out of idea with long distance attempts.
However Roberts finally broke the resistance of the home team when he brilliantly turned the impressive Wali and fired a low shot at the near post and found the back of the net.
Junior Hoilett almost made it two when his delightful chip came off the cross-bar, much to the delight of the fans, who were definitely making their presence felt.
The half ended with Pune FC creating two opportunities, but Jeje’s tame effort failed to trouble the keeper while Douhou Pierre tried to play a pass to Jeje when he would have been better served by taking a shot on goal.
The teams went into the half time, relieved to get a break from the heavy rain, with Blackburn leading 1-0. Pune FC though had definitely given a good account of themselves.
Blackburn started the second half much like the first, dominating proceedings.
A quick passing move then saw Rochina try his luck from 25 yards and his belter of an effort was brilliantly saved by Shahinlal.
The English outfit upped the tempo and saw efforts from Nzonzi saved on the line while Formica saw yet another effort saved by Meloly.
Blackburn continued to put pressure on the 10 men Pune outfit and finally went into the lead when Rochina’s rasping drive from the edge of the box beat Meloly all ends up.
The second led to a raft of substitution as Lester Fernandes came in for a tired Douhou while youngster Nick Blackman came in for Yakubu, who had a frustrating evening upfront and Hoilett came off in favour of Robbie Cotton.
Blackman had an almost immediate impact as he nearly dribbled his way past a slew of defenders before a last ditch tackle halted his run.
The Red Lizards tried to hold on to possession but were largely short of ideas in attack and continued to face an onslaught on their end as Blackburn peppered their goal with shots on target.
Blackburn then sent on Myles Anderson for Formica while Subhash Singh came in for S. Venkatesh for the Pune based outfit.
The speedy Singh almost made a difference when Pune FC caught Blackburn on the counter with Subhash leading the charge, and putting a promising ball out wide. The final ball from Lester was disappointing and ultimately the attack fizzled out.
Blackburn though, continued to enjoy the bulk of the possession and some last ditch defending by the Pune FC rearguard and impressive saves by Shahinlal kept the Red Lizards in the game.
In the 65th minute Jeje, who made quite a fist of the lone front-man role, was withdrawn for the more conservative Paresh Shivalkar as the Pune based outfit tried to stem the tide in midfield.
The move didn’t pay off however as some pedestrian defending allowed Jason Roberts a free shot on goal and the experienced striker made no mistake from close range and made it 3-0 in the 75th minute.
Blackburn were left wondering as to how they didn’t add a fourth almost immediately as first a Roberts effort was cleared off the line by Costa before Shahinlal made a trio of point blank saves as Pune FC barely missed Indian star Subrata Paul in goal.
The English outfit continued to turn the screw in front of the Pune FC goal as the host of youngsters sent in by Steve Kean tried to make a mark on the proceedings.
Meloly produced another top class save in injury time as the match finally ended with Blackburn Rovers unable to add to their three goal lead.
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