A late fightback by the Stallions went in vain as FC Pune City came second best to Delhi Dynamos in their opening game of the Indian Super League (ISL) Season four.
Head Coach Ranko Popovic put out a 4-3-3 formation with Kamaljit Singh guarding the goal, the back four comprising of Sarthak Golui, Rafael Lopez, Gurtej Singh and Lalchuanmawia Fanai. The midfield comprised of Marcos Tebar, Rohit Kumar and Jonatan Lucca with the forward line being Marcelinho Leite, Emiliano Alfaro and Jewel Raja. The Wadhawan Group co-owned club faced an early setback when Jewel Raja had to be substituted after injuring his groin muscle and Baljit Sahni was drafted into his place.
What followed was a cagey affair with both sides looking to find their feet. The Stallions came close to breaking the deadlock in the 25th minute when Sarthak Golui’s cross from the right was met by Emiliano Alfaro but his header was saved by Delhi’s goalkeeper. The visitors had a chance to open the scoring at the end of the half with Matias Mirabaje finding space at the edge of the box but his shot gave Kamaljit nothing to worry about. At the end of the first half, it looked even between the two units with no goals to show.
The second half began in unfortunate fashion with the visitors scoring immediately post the interval. A Sena Ralte cross from the left was met by Paulinho Dias who buried it past Kamaljit Singh. About ten minutes later, a loose ball was picked up by Lallianzuala Chhangte in a dangerous area who raced past Pune’s defense and chipped the ball over the goalkeeper. Yet another goal was scored by Delhi when Mirabaje got onto his left foot from the right wing and blasted it into the top corner.
A couple of minutes later, Emiliano Alfaro produced a moment of genius when he turned quickly at the edge of the box to covert a ball played to his feet to a goal for the Stallions. A few changes were made into the team by the coach with Diego Carlos and Kean Lewis being drafted in. The home side scored their second in the dying seconds of the game courtesy of Marcos Tebar but it wasn’t enough to get any points out of the game.
FC Pune City take on Atletico de Kolkata in their next ISL fixture, on November 26 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangana, in Kolkata.