Federation Cup: Inspired Pune FC Beat Dempo To Throw Group D Wide Open

Derrick Pereira's men were in fine form in their opening match...

Pune FC produced the first big upset of the Federation Cup, as they produced a wonderful performance for the 90 minutes to beat Dempo 2-1 after going a goal down in the 75th minute. Clifford Miranda gave Dempo the lead, but goals from Arata Izumi and Edmar Figueira gave Derrick Pereira's men their first win in three months.

Dempo started with more or less the expected eleven players, with Tyson in goal, Naik returning at left back, and Miranda and Pereira on the flanks, supporting Chhetri and Martins up front. Pune left skipper Venkatesh out of the starting line up, as Godwin Franco and Douhou starting in central midfield. U-23 star Jeje Lalpekhlua partnered Edmar up front, while goalkeeper Subrata Paul wore the captain's armband.

The match started with Pune in possession, who were passing the ball around rather impressively. Douhou and Godwin Franco were effective in midfield, not letting Venky's absence be felt. Arata and Vignesh were equally good on the flanks, while fullbacks Lalrozama and Tabia overlapping well.

However, for all their pretty passing, Pune failed to get in behind the Dempo defence, who were well-organized. Their best chance of the half came in the 12th minute, as a brilliant run from left back Lalrozama saw him in acres of space on the left. He sent in a low cross into the box, but it was just behind Jeje, who was forced to turn around and take a shot, which was deflected out for a corner.

It was Pune who kept dominating, but Dempo almost took the lead in the 19th minute when a superb Samir Naik cross from the left fell just behind Ranti Martins, whose first touch was heavy, allowing Pune to clear. From the counter attack, Jeje played in strike partner Edmar into the box on the left, but his attempt on goal was blocked.

Dempo then suffered a big blow, as midfielder Beto was substituted five minutes later due to an injury, with Peter Carvalho coming on in place.

The substitute almost made a big impact in the 32nd minute, when he rose highest at a corner, but his header was cleared off the line by an alert Godwin Franco.

Pune continued to look the better side, but could only muster one more chance in the half, when Arata came close to scoring as he ran on to a curling low cross from Vignesh, but he scuffed his shot, making it an easy save for Tyson Caiado a minute before half time.

Dempo looked more purposeful after half time, as they saw more of the ball and put more pressure on the Pune defence. Pune were still resilient at the back though, and the first chance of the half fell to them in the 48th minute, as Rahul Kumar had his poked shot from a corner cleared off the line by Valeriano.

The match then resembled the first half, with Pune passing the ball better, while Dempo looking dangerous every once in a while. Ranti Martins and Sunil Chhetri got much more into the game in the half, and combined much better.

And it was their combination which seemed to have given Dempo the lead in the 72nd minute, as Martins' lofted pass saw Chhetri toe-poke the ball into the back of the net, but the linesman had already blown for offside, even though replays showed that Chhetri wasn't past the last defender.

The match then burst into life three minutes later, as Clifford Miranda finally broke the deadlock. Dempo were putting some sustained pressure on Subrata Paul and his defence, and Valeriano's curling cross from the right was met by Miranda, who had made a superb run in from the far post. Miranda chested the ball down and tapped the ball home past a diving Subrata Paul, who had no chance.

Just when one thought that it was the same old story for Pune, Arata Izumi equalized just two minutes later with a stunning effort. He received the ball 25 yards out, took a touch, and slammed the ball home across Tyson Caiado with his left foot, drawing loud cheers from the spectators present at the ground.

Pune looked the better side again, as they saw pretty much all of the possession, and it paid off three minutes from time, as a horrible defensive mix up in the Dempo box gave Edmar the easiest goal he will ever score.

A cross from the right into the box was looking to be headed out by Anwar, who didn't know that Tyson was charging off his line to collect the cross behind him. Tyson caught the ball and spilled it, and the ball then ricocheted off Anwar's back to roll towards goal, with Edmar's tap-in sealing the deal.

Pune held on comfortably till the end, as their defenders, especially Rahul Kumar, were in inspired form all day. The I-League debutants completed their first win over an I-League club, throwing Group D wide open.


Dempo - Clifford Miranda (75')

Pune FC - Arata Izumi (77'), Edmar Figueira (87')

Atishay Agarwal

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