The Goan outfit registered three vital points in a crucial tie as they returned to winning ways...
Salgaocar FC closed the gap at the top to a point as they downed ten-men Pune FC 2-1 in a round 24 I-League encounter at the Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex, Pune. Gilbert Oliveira put his side ahead in the first half but the lead was cancelled out by Mustapha Riga’s penalty with Dhanpal Ganeshan being sent-off. Darryl Duffy scored a late winner for the visitors to keep their title hopes alive.
The win sees Salgaocar move to 37 points, just a point behind league leaders Bengaluru FC. Pune FC remain on 31 points and in sixth position as their struggles in 2014 continue having won just a single game from 15 matches in all competitions.
Mike Snoei made as many as four changes from the last game as Amrinder Singh, Anthony D’Souza, Dhanpal Ganeshan and Thongkhosiem Haokip made into the line-up.
Derrick Pereira fielded Brian Mascarenhas in the left back slot and introduced Freiman Peixoto in the midfield alongside Rocus Lamare.
It was the home side who had the first chance when Douhou Pierre found Gabriel Fernandes on the right who played it back for Mustapha Riga, but the former Levante striker's first time shot went way over.
Salgaocar came close in the 18th minute when Dudu Omagbemi’s headed the ball from a Lamare cross which could have gone in. Four minutes later, Freiman Peixoto’s long ranger went inches wide of the target.
Riga was in the thick of action once agian as he poorly connected from a Calum Angus corner-kick in the 24th minute and after the half hour mark saw his weak header being easily collected by Karanjit Singh.
The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute when Dudu sent in a ball behind Srikanth Ramu which saw Gilbert Oliveira sneak in and slot the ball home with ease.
After the break, Haokip header went into the hands of Karanjit in goal from an Angus cross.
Pune FC earned a penalty when Gabriel Fernandes was hacked inside the box by Augustin Fernandes. However in the scuffle that ensued Dhanpal Ganeshan showed his inexperience by punching Karanjit in face and was rightly given his marching orders by referee Ajit Dutta.
Riga calmly slotted the resultant penalty in to restore parity in the 56th minute.
Snoei responded by introducing Mirjan Pavlovic for Haokip with Riga playing as a midfielder.
Pavlovic sent in a cross from the left which was chested down by Wali. Augustin Fernandes hesitated to clear which allowed Pavlovic to sneak in but the centre-back put in a last ditch tackle to make amends.
Peixoto gave the ball away to Riga who combined with Pavlovic but the latter lost his fotting inside the box just as he was to pull the trigger in the 72nd minute.
Pune FC wasted a chance to score the winner in what was the best opening of the game. Gurjinder passed to Pavlovic on the left and his cross evaded everyone in the Salgaocar defense to find Gabriel who took a touch and laid it to Douhou to shoot which was blocked despite having the entire goal to aim at.
The Red Lizards paid the price for squandering their chances when Duffy scored the winner. Salam Ranjan Singh handled the ball for Dudu whose shot saw Amrinder come off his line to block. The rebound fell for Duffy who headed it in as the Pune FC defense was caught napping for the second time in the evening.
Derrick Pereira registered a victory against his former side who are in poor rut of form with their title chances almost coming to an end.