The South Sudanese striker delivered the sucker punch by scoring a late winner in injury time to help continue Pune FC's winning run...
Pune FC registered a crucial 2-1 away win over United Sikkim in round 14 of the I-League at the Polo Stadium which helped them rise to the second spot in the I-League table.
The Red Lizards scored on the 23rd minute as Arata Izumi was set up beautifully by Douhou Pierre. Nima Tamang scored the equaliser after the hour mark however as the game was drawing to a close, James Moga found the back of the net in the injury time to seal the three points for the away side.
Pune FC were quick to get off the blocks, as they showed clear intent right after the game had begun. Subash Singh was close with his effort on the 5th minute as his shot hit the side netting. Three minutes later, Nurudeen Salau managed to get on the end of a pinpoint cross but his header was way wide in what was a wasted opportunity.
Pune FC then seemed to catch the game by the scruff of its neck as they won three corners in the space of five minutes and the North Eastern outfit started feeling the heat. The 20th minute saw the Red Lizards win their fourth corner as United Sikkim were just not able to deal with the pressure. Something had to give with the barrage of corners and the constant pressure that Pune had exterted as the hosts paid the price on the 23rdminute as Arata Izumi put his side into the lead with brilliant anticipation and an equally good finish. With Karma pushing the ball to Douhou on the right, the skipper did well to release the ball just when Arata made a run behind the defender. Once in the clear, Arata met the ball well to slot past USFC ’keeper Yoon Tae.
The home side then squandered a chance to equalise as no one could get on the end of a quality cross from Tamang.
The hosts had begun to dominate possession as they worked hard for the equaliser. Around the half-hour mark, Salau shot wide from a narrow angle on a counter. Four minutes later, Srikanth cleared USFC skipper Anwar Ali’s header.
Just before the end of the first half, Chika Wali saw his name get into the referee’s book as he received a yellow card. Rodriguez stepped up to take the free-kick and was successful in beating the wall but his shot did not trouble the Pune custodian Mondal.
The second half began as the first ended with tackles flying around. Three minutes from the restart, defender Anas Edathodika went down after an aerial duel. However the referee waived play on; only for Pune FC to eventually clear out the ensuing corner kick.
The hosts did manage to score the equaliser eventually after the hour mark. Losing the ball in the midfield, Nima Tamang was the recipient on right. Outpacing Pune FC’s wing back Gurjinder Kumar, Tamang sent in a stiff cross a yard ahead off the touchline. The retrieving Anas in his bid to clear, found the ball rebound off Abhra and onto Gurjinder and past the goalline.
Moga, playing the lone man upfront after substitute Jeje was replaced by Paite, created a couple of close chances. First, his bicycle-kick was saved by USFC ‘keeper Yoon Tae which was followed by another long-range effort to be blocked by the ‘keeper.
At the other end, USFC dangerously moved up the right after breaking down Pune FC’s possession. Abhra and the backline were alert to clear the danger.
Into the final ten minutes, the search for the winner intensified. After some half chances, Pune FC finally scored the match-winner deep into added time.
Medio Arata, on the left won a freekick, three minutes into added time. Off the free-kick, skipper Douhou sent a brilliant low delivery aimed at the first post that swung. Moga attacked the delivery and did well to flick into the far corner to seal the game for Pune FC.
The Red Lizards held on for a crucial win that sends them above Dempo SC on the table for the first time and the hosts United Sikkim will have to pick themselves up as they lie on the bottom of the league at the end of Gameweek 14.
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