Rangdajied United staged a miraculous recovery by scoring twice in injury time to relegate Pune FC to two defeats on the trot...MATCH REPORT
By Kaustav Bera with Nabarun Goswami at the stadium
Rangdajied United and Pune FC played out a five goal thriller at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong with two injury time goals giving the home team three crucial points.
Pune had opened the scoring through Mustapha Riga (23') and Gurjinder Kumar (34') in the first half while Edmar Figueira pulled one back for Rangdajied United in the sixtieth minute. However there was a twist in the tale as Kim Yong (90+3') equalised which was followed by substitute T. Lalnunpuia (90+4') winning it for the hosts.
Santosh Kashyap welcomed back Edmar Figueira into his lineup as Manandeep Singh was dropped, with Kim Yong partnering the Brazilian upfront. Mike Snoei had Mustapha Riga partnering Thongkhosiem Haokip in attack.
The home side had a chance within five minutes when Kim Yong nodded a free-kick towards Edmar's path but saw it evade the Brazilian who only had to tap in.
In the 22nd minute, Edmar was in the thick of things yet again when his powerful drive from outside the box, after Restom Khriam had played him through, was kept out by Amrinder Singh in goal.
However it was Pune FC who scored on the counter attack a minute later through a Mustapha Riga thunderbolt. Arata Izumi had dribbled past two defenders down the right before sliding it to Riga who smashed it with venom, giving Subrata Paul no chance whatsoever.
Rangdajied dug themselves into further trouble as they conceded another goal, four minutes after the half hour mark due to a error from Poibang Pohshna who was caught ball watching. Izumi's cross from the right towards Riga was intercepted by Pohshna who did not affect a clearance but instead allowed Riga to win the ball back. He laid it on for an onrushing Gurjinder Kumar and the Pune FC defender seeing Subrata off his line, chipped it over him to double his side's advantage.
As the second half started, it was the home team who pushed to get back into the match with Amrinder pulling off saves from Eugenson Lyngdoh and Kim Yong.
However Amrinder was finally beaten, with former Pune FC striker Edmar Figueira scoring from outside the box which gave the custodian no chance in spite of diving to his right.
With Rangdajied pushing hard for the equaliser now, Pune FC did have a couple of chances on the counter through Haokip and Riga but the Shillong side's defense stood strong.
The Red Lizards did have a chance to bury the match beyond any reasonable doubt, three minutes from time when Riga released Haokip only for an alert Subrata Paul to come out and smother it.
Little did they know how much the miss was going to cost them as Rangdajied staged a fairy tale recovery as they not only equalised but also scored the winning goal, all in a matter of minutes in injury time.
First it was Kim Yong who got the ball in the box in a goalmouth melee with the Pune defenders failing to clear the lines, which resulted in the North Korean slotting the ball in.
Then almost immediately following kickoff, Rangdajied had an unlikely hero in substitute Lalnunpuia who smashed a terrific right footed shot from outside the box which beat Amrinder to give his side a last gasp victory.
The result meant Pune FC were relegated to back-to-back defeats while Santosh Kashyap's men showed plenty of character to bounce back in style.
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