After cutting down East Bengal to size it was Pune FC's turn to face the music as Mumbai FC won the Maharashtra Derby...
By Kaustav Bera with Nikhil Jitendran at the stadium
Mumbai FC were 2-1 winners over Pune FC at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune with goals from NP Pradeep (12') and Yusif Yakubu (60') handing Khalid Jamil's side back to back wins. Arata Izumi had equalised for Pune in the 41st minute but ended up on the losing side.
Mike Snoei had Othallo Tabia returning from injury but he could only find a place on the bench as Pune FC fielded an unchanged squad from the one which drew 1-1 against United SC. Meanwhile, Khalid Jamil had roped in Sandesh Jhingan who replaced the suspended Ahmed Hatifie in the squad.
Mumbai's first chance fell to N.P. Pradeep who was set up by Climax Lawrence in the ninth minute but saw his shot blocked by the Pune defenders.
Just three minutes later, Pradeep made no mistake as he slid in to get on the end of a brilliant cross from Nicholas Rodrigues down the left to open the scoring for Mumbai.
Having gone behind, Pune FC cranked up the pressure though they were susceptible on the counter-attack as Yakubu and Pradeep were a constant threat. Meyer then set up Mustapha Riga from the right as the Dutchman tried his luck at a bicycle kick which went agonizingly close in the 35th minute.
It was then in the 41st minute that Pune equalised against the run of play. Douhou Pierre received the ball on the right before dribbling past three defenders and setting up Arata. The midfielder tapped in the ball giving Nidhin Lal no chance, amidst shouts of offside.
The half ended somewhat controversially as Gurjinder seemed to have shoved Amiri to the ground with a challenge form behind in the penalty box. However, the referee had waved played on in spite of persistent protests from the Mumbai side.
Ten minutes after the break it was the adventurous defender Haroon Amiri who tested Amrinder Singh in goal with a 20-yard piledriver. The Pune custodian parried it away allowing Anas Edathodika to clear it to safety.
Mumbai had the breakthrough at the hour-mark through the evergreen Yakubu. It was Nicholas Rodrigues again with good work on the flanks as he floated in a brilliant ball towards the far post. The Ghanaian peeled away from his defender and smashed in a low shot to give his team the lead once again.
It was only Nidhin Lal's heroics ten minutes later which allowed Mumbai FC to hold on to the lead as he pulled out a top drawer save. Mustapha Riga was unmarked and Nikhil Kadam had found him with an inch perfect cross. The Dutchman's free header was however kept out acrobatically by Lal.
As Pune pushed on for the equaliser Lal was called into action several times as he saved shots from James Meyer, Douhou and Mohammed Rafi in quick succession.
Riga could have easily got on the score sheet in the 87th minute after Kadam found him again. His delightful first touch gave him time to set up the shot but was foiled by the Mumbai defenders who managed to get their bodies in the way.
Mumbai FC held on by the skin of their teeth in injury-time to come up with yet another upset. Meanwhile, Mike Snoei will have a lot to think about due to his team's recent slump in form.
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