Pune FC book berth in King’s Cup semis

Karim Bencherifa has continued to work wonders with the Red Lizards as they advanced into the semi-final in their first ever overseas stint…

Pune FC handed a 5-0 thrashing to Assam State Electricity Board FC at the Changlimithang Stadium on Sunday in their third round group B clash to make it into the final four of the King’s Cup, Bhutan.

Thongkhosiem Haokip was the star of the show as he registered a hat-trick with goals from Arata Izumi and substitute Velington Rocha which helped their side to be the first to qualify for the semis as they have nine points from their first three outings.

The Indian outfit took the lead in the 14th minute after some good combination play between Haokip, Ryuji Sueoka which saw the latter find Arata in the clear. The Pune FC skipper slotted the ball past Daoga Brahma in goal.

Six minutes later, Arata provided the assist as the move began with Eric Brown find the midfielder in space on the left. He squared a perfect pass for Haokip who slid the ball into the goal to add his name on the score sheet.

Haokip got his second goal in the 29th minute after Sueoka’s shot took a deflection and the final fell for the striker who made no mistake in tripling the lead for Pune.

Just before the end of the first half, Brown came close when his effort hit the base of the framework.

After the break, Haokip completed his hat-trick in the 67th minute. Nikhil Kadam squared a pass for Haokip on the edge of the box whose calm finish saw him score his first ever hat-trick for the Red Lizards.

Midfielder lalrempuia Fanai saw his first time effort came off the woodwork. Assam had a chance to pull one back in the 78th minute when they won the penalty kick after Salam Ranjan fouled Dwimhlu Brahma inside the box. However, Sanjay Boro fired wide much to help Pune FC keep a clean sheet.

In the 85th minute, Lalrempuia found Nikhil on the left and did well to pass the ball for Rocha who placed it past the opposition custodian to complete the rout.

Pune could have scored another goal at the death but Haokip’s effort was just about saved by Brahma in goal.