BY NISANTH V EASWAR Follow @Niktheblue94 on Twitter
Jamshedpur FC had four shots on target against Pune City in their 0-1 defeat at the Tata Sports Complex on Sunday. The winning side, hailed for their attacking impetus ahead of the game, had just one.
Adil Khan was at the far post to strike a neat volley into the net from a free-kick taken by Marcelinho in the 30th minute as the Stallions executed their plan B to perfection against a side labelled 'defensive'.
Khan's goal, which eventually turned out to be the match winner, is the first goal to be conceded by Steve Coppell's men this season. From their other four games, they have managed to score just one goal and conceded none. And this is what makes the victory even sweeter for Pune City.
Emiliano Alfaro was the joint top scorer with Ferran Corominas with four goals to his name, until Saturday (before Corominas fired in a quick-fire hat-trick against Kerala Blasters). Marcelinho, who was last season's Golden Boot winner, was at the forefront of Pune City's attack and had proven to be the player to unlock defences in the games gone by. But against Jamshedpur, we saw a different Pune side.
They defended valiantly and had a strict check on Jamshedpur's forays forward. Vishal Kaith was at his best, claiming high balls and generally staying error-free. Considering the amount of flak Indian goalkeepers have come in for this season, Kaith's performance was impressive.
Marcos Tebar was the visitors' link in midfield. The former Real Madrid midfielder knew exactly when to surge forward to join Marcelinho and Alfaro in the attack, holding the play in midfield efficiently at other times. And that wasn't easy against Jamshedpur who came out of their blocks quickly in the second half.
Izu Azuka was involved heavily for the home side. He rose the highest to head the ball into the net from a cross from the right-hand side, but the linesman had raised the flag to deem the striker offside. But the disallowed goal was a result of a period of sustained pressure by Jamshedpur on Pune's defence at the stroke of half-time and that continued into the second half as well. For once, Jamshedpur were putting their attacking arsenal on display.
Izuka might not have rescued any points for the Men of Steel like he did against Delhi in their previous game and Marcelinho and Alfaro may not have been able to influence the game as much as they have done so far in the season but both teams put on displays that were completely different from what was expected from the teams before the start of the game. The game was not a case of Pune's attack against Jamshedpur's defence - if anything, it was just the opposite.
While Jamshedpur have shown that they have what it takes to trouble opposition defences without sitting back in their own half, Pune City have sent a signal to the rest of the league with their gritty win and this ability to churn out results in different circumstances is what could ultimately propel them to the summit of Indian Super League.