Marcelo helps Pune clinch rare victory over Kerala

FC Pune City registered only their second victory of the season with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday.

The three points took the Stallions to the eighth spot in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) table with eight points from 11 matches, while Kerala stayed seventh with nine points from the same number of outings. This was also Pune’s second-ever Hero ISL win over Kerala and their first one in Kochi.

  • Marcelo Pereira scored the only goal of the match on the 20th minute.
  • Kerala created numerous chances in the second-half but could not make them count.
  • The victory was Pune’s first away win of the season.

The match started on a frantic note with chances being created at both ends of the pitch. Pune were awarded the first real chance of the half when Marcelo broke through the Kerala defence. With just Dheeraj Singh in his way, the Brazilian failed to beat the young keeper.

Only a minute later, the hosts should have taken the lead when Slavisa Stojanovic got on the end of a delightful cross from Courage Pekuson. The Serbian, however, could not steer his effort on target as the ball narrowly missed the post.

It was the visitors who drew first blood. Marcelo once again found space inside the Kerala box after he latched onto a defence splitting pass from Ashique Kuruniyan. His scuffed shot deflected off Anas Edathodika’s outstretched leg into the far corner.

Kerala tried hard to hit back, but the Stallions showed solidarity in defence, limiting the likes of Stojanovic to just long-distance efforts. The first-half ended with Pune holding the slender 1-0 advantage.

With the introduction of CK Vineeth, Kerala started the second-half as the better of the two sides and nearly equalised shortly after the restart. The lively Pekuson released Stojanovic down the right-hand side of the box. The Serbian’s ball across the face of goal was just inches away from Vineeth, who made a clever run at the far post.

Pune came close to scoring the second goal of the match just a few minutes later. Substitute Marko Stankovic picked up a loose ball 25-yards out. His deflected shot deceived Dheeraj but missed the far post by a few inches.

Around the 75-minute mark, Kerala got another fine chance to bag the equaliser. The lively Sahal Abdul Samad tried his luck from the edge of the box with the ball seemingly destined for the bottom corner. However, Sarthak Golui showed good presence of mind to ensure that the ball didn’t cross the line.  A few minutes later, Sahal was once again in the thick of things when he fired a stinging shot from near the edge of the box. However, his effort was directed straight at Kamaljit Singh, giving him the opportunity to comfortably parry the ball away.

Kerala had a couple of good chances to salvage a point in injury time. First, Sandesh Jhingan ghosted behind the Pune defence to get on the end of a lofted ball from the right wing. However, his resulting header was well saved by Kamaljit Singh.

Soon after, Vineeth beat the Pune keeper at the near post with a cracking shot but was eventually denied by the post.

It was the final effort of the match, as the Stallions held on to secure the win.

Hero of the Match - Jonathan Vila

Jonathan Vila was instrumental for Pune throughout the 90 minutes. His composure in midfield was vital for the Stallions while going forward. He also aided his defence, disrupting Kerala’s forward forays at every juncture. He was deservedly awarded the Hero of the Match.

MATCH AWARDS

Club Award – FC Pune City 

Swift Limitless Player of the Match – Matt Mills

DHL Winning Pass of the Match Ashique Kuruniyan

ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Sarthak Golui

Hero of the Match – Jonathan Vila

WHAT’S NEXT?

Pune will next host high-flyers FC Goa on December 11, while Kerala will be on the road to face Mumbai City FC on December 16.

Watch the match highlights here

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