Bengaluru's poor form on the road continued as they lost to the Red Lizards on Wednesday...A second half goal from James Meyer helped Pune FC bag all three points against Bengaluru FC in a round nine I-League match.
Mike Snoei, the Pune FC gaffer had to make a number of changes to his side due to injury and suspension issues. Arup Debnath started between the sticks for the home side while Calum Angus hadn't recovered from an injury and hence didn't make the cut. James Meyer returned from an injury break to make it in to the bench.
Pawan Kumar returned in place of Bruno Colaco for the away side while Curtis Osano also was handed a start after recovering from an injury.
Riga Mustapha used his deadly acceleration to invade into the Bengaluru box with ease in the opening minutes. In the 12th minute, Pune came close to scoring but Pawan Kumar was at his very best to deny Riga open his account.
Bengaluru also was not much behind, as John Johnson pulled off a brilliant header that missed the target by a whisker.
Riga was once again the danger man in the 20th minute, but from the edge of the six-yard box, he failed to connect a square pass that was supplied to him from the left flank.
The best chance of the first half came in the way of the hosts in the 31st minute, when the referee pointed to the penalty spot after John Johnson brought down Arata Izumi inside the penalty box. However, a great save from Pawan Kumar denied Red Lizards the elusive first goal, as the custodian held a tame Gurjinder Singh effort safely.
It was only three minutes later, when Pune FC orchestrated another attack down the wings, but this time Riga's effort went just wide of the target, giving Pawan a breather.
Sunil Chhetri got the best chance for his side in the 42nd minute, when Thoi Singh fed him with a cross, but the skipper headed the ball wide.
After the play resumed, Riga and Arata linked up but the former couldn't connect well to throw a fresh challenge to Pawan Kumar. Only three minutes later, Siam Hangal took a shot from distance which was held easily by Arup Debnath.
Bengaluru had another chance in the 60th minute, when they launched a quick counter attack, but Sean Rooney's shot from 25-yards went well above the crossbar.
Douhou also got a golden opportunity to break the deadlock when he went on a daunting run before unleashing a beautiful curled effort, which went past Pawan Kumar, but a slight deflection ensured that it is cleared away for a corner.
However, Pune FC got the first taste of success in the 71th minute, when James Meyer, a substitute injected late into the game, went on a solo run down the right flank and nutmegged one of the Bengaluru defenders to create space for himself. After entering the box, he took a powerful ground shot, which beat the in-form travelling custodian to hit the inner side of the post and give the Red Lizards the lead they were craving for long.
Three minutes later, Bengaluru had their share of action as Thoi Singh took a shot from a tight angle, but Debnath was at the top of his game to deny him the eqaliser.
In the 85th minute, Riga put Meyer's cross into the net, but the goal was disallowed since the linesman raised his flag to give an offside. Ashley Westwood played his last card in the 86th minute, bringing in Robin Singh for the off-colour Sunil Chhetri, but to little result.
However, a piece of late drama was unfurled in the stoppage time, when Bengaluru FC were awarded a penalty after John Menyongar was brought down in the box, but the resulting spot-kick was saved by Arup Debnath. The hosts retained the slender advantage in the dying few minutes and added three valuable points to their account.
With this win, Pune FC now have sixteen points from their seven matches while Bengaluru have fourteen having played out eight games.
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