Alfaro and Lucca strike to hand Goa first home defeat

FC Pune City rode on second-half goals from Emiliano Alfaro and Jonatan Lucca to beat FC Goa 2 – 0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Saturday in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18. The result succumbed the Gaurs to their first home defeat of the ongoing campaign. This was also the first time they failed to score this season.

The hosts started on the attack right from kick-off and nearly made their opponents pay for a blunder in the 12th minute. Stallions’ custodian Vishal Kaith could not grab on to the ball when headed back by the defender, allowing Ferran Corominas to get to it instead. Although the goal was empty, the angle was slightly tight for the Spaniard and his chip came off the upright before being cleared away.

Seven minutes later, Pune carved a glorious opening for themselves. Alfaro fed the ball to Marcelinho on the left flank, and the Brazilian squared it back for Alfaro for a seemingly easy tap-in. The Uruguayan, however, under pressure from his marker, fluffed his lines.

Alfaro was again involved in the 21st minute when he took a powerful shot from inside the box, but keeper Laxmikant Kattimani managed to get a palm to it. Ten minutes later, Diego Carlos came close when he followed up some good solo effort with a powerful shot, but Kattimani met it with another smart save.

The Gaurs, however, were not to be kept quiet for long and the 36th minute saw Manuel Lanzarote’s dangerous cross fizz across the goal, just about missing a defining touch from the lurking Corominas and Mandar Rao Dessai. In the very next minute, Lanzarote was put through by an Ahmed Jahouh pass, that he did well to cut past the defender and get a shot away. But Kaith came to the rescue with a good save. That proved to be the last piece of action from a goalless, but entertaining half.

Six minutes after the restart, Pune fashioned a shot on target when Carlos followed up some good work down the left flank with a lay-off for Marcelinho. The latter’s first time shot though was well saved by Kattimani.

Goa could have grabbed the lead in the 70th minute, but some splendid goalkeeping denied them. Corominas’ shot from an angle was palmed by Kaith into the path of Brandon Fernandes, whose shot he saved with his legs. The rebound came to Manuel Arana and his shot from close range was again met with a point-blank save by the 21-year-old.

The Gaurs were left to rue that miss as Pune’s star South Americans combined to finally break the deadlock two minutes later. Marcelinho put Alfaro through on goal with a lovely ball, and the Uruguayan showed good strength to shake off Mohamed Ali and score past Kattimani.

Alfaro nearly doubled his and Pune’s tally in the 74th minute when once more through on goal, he chipped an on-rushing Kattimani. His effort did not have enough pace though, allowing substitute Pronay Halder to rush back and clear.

The Stallions did get their second six minutes from time. Following a melee in the 18-yard-box, Alfaro put in his leg to block an attempted clearance, resulting in the ball falling kindly for substitute Jonatan Lucca. With Kattimani out of position, the Brazilian calmly slotted it home.

That proved to be the final nail in the coffin, as with the 2-0 win, Pune rose to fourth on the league table tied on same points with FC Goa, who currently sit second.

MATCH AWARDS

Club Award: FC Pune City

Swift Moment of the Match: Pronay Halder

DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Marcelinho

Amul Fittest Player: Mandar Rao Dessai

Emerging Player: Vishal Kaith

Hero of the Match: Adil Khan

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