FC Pune City beat NorthEast United FC 1-0 on Wednesday evening at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati. Marcelinho scored the all-important goal in the 86th minute to seal crucial three points for the away side.
Both the sides underwent two changes in their starting XI tonight. For NorthEast United, Nirmal Chettri came back from his suspension and replaced Robert Lalthlamuana. Lalrindika Ralte came in place of Halicharan Narzary on the left flank. FC Pune City welcomed back Marcos Tebar who replaced Marko Stankovic at the heart of the midfield. Isaac Vanmalsawma was the other change in place of Sarthak Golui.
NorthEast United were in control from the very beginning of the match. They looked comfortable with the ball and constantly launched attacks to keep the Pune defenders on their toes.
Against the run of play, Emiliano Alfaro had an easy chance to find the back of the net in the 24th minute. The move started with a long ball from Marcos Tebar into the box that Nirmal tried to head back towards his goalkeeper with Alfaro waiting to intercept. Alfaro tried to chip the ball above Rehenesh from a one-on-one situation but the ball flew over the crossbar.
Marcinho and Danilo came close to breaking the deadlock on numerous occasions but failed to find the back of the net. They kept the Pune backline alert for almost the entire first 45 minutes.
Avram Grant’s men left for the tunnel as the better side in the first half of a match that lacked an end product in the attacking third.
The second half witnessed a high tempo game as both the sides went all guns blazing to break the deadlock. In the 52nd minute, Marcelinho took a brilliant free-kick from the edge of the box which curled towards the top right corner. But Rehenesh was agile and parried the ball away.
Three minutes later, Lalrindika Ralte missed the easiest chance of the night when he failed to score from close-range. Seiminlen Doungel curled a cross into the box and Didika shot wide.
Avram Grant decided to introduce John Mosquera in the 73rd minute in place of Martin Diaz to add more firepower up front. The substitute created an instant impact within three minutes as he sent a powerful header at goal off Ralte’s cross. However, Kaith was in position and comfortably collected the ball.
Marcelinho finally broke the deadlock in the 86th minute from Marko Stankovic's through-ball. The Brazilian ran down the middle, beat his marker with sheer pace and sent the ball past Rehenesh into the back of the net.
The win takes Ranko Popovic's side to the second position on the league table with 25 points from 14 outings. NorthEast United remain ninth with 11 points from 13 matches.