Mutu’s rescue act earns Pune a point
Hosts FC Pune City rescued a point in stoppage time in their Hero Indian Super League Season 2 game against FC Goa on Sunday evening, thanks to a high-quality left-footed shot by their marquee man Adrian Mutu. The Stallions took the lead in the first half before quick strikes from Rafael Coelho and Jonatan Lucca put the visitors into the ascendancy at the interval. A bit of magic in closing seconds of the game by Mutu was just about enough for the home side as it ended all square in front of 8,946 spectators at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune.
David Platt chose to start with their marquee player Mutu up front and the move almost paid dividends in the fifth minute when his free-kick had to be touched behind for a corner by FC Goa keeper Laxmikant Kattimani. Mutu was at it again with another long-range effort but this time his shot failed to call Kattimani into action.
The majority of the opening 20 minutes saw fiercely-contested duels in midfield. Both sides were trying to stamp their authority on the game with little effect. Goa’s Leo Moura looked most likely to create an opening for the visitors, while Mutu looked like a man possessed after being heavily involved in the opening exchanges.
The first goal of the match almost came in the 22nd minute from a Moura corner that was just cleared off the line by FC Pune City. Coelho was next to test Pune’s defence shortly after, but the Brazilian’s shot was bravely blocked by Gouramangi Singh.
Goa had taken a firm stranglehold of the match by this stage as the hosts defended waves of Goan attacks as well as corners with the game practically being played in the home side’s half. It was the home side though that took the lead in the 32nd minute after skipper Didier Zokora combined superbly with Lyngdoh.
Zokora broke from midfield with a lung-bursting run straight in Goa’s penalty box. Ivory Coast’s most capped player of all time then played a perfectly weighed square ball into the danger area with Lyngdoh doing the rest to put the Stallions up 1-0.
The Gaurs’ response was almost immediate. Coelho who was making his second appearance for Goa this season, sent in a rifling shot to make it 1-1 with 35 minutes on the clock.
The game had opened up suddenly. Efforts by Lucca and Moura in quick succession almost put Goa ahead in the last five minutes of the half but for a brilliant Steven Simonsen in Pune’s goal. Simonson was powerless when the goal eventually came for the Gaurs two minutes before half-time.
Lucca collected the ball outside the box after yet another Goa corner and fired in a low drive that took a deflection off Roger Johnson rendering Simonsen helpless in goal as the visitors came from behind to go in with a 2-1 lead at the break.
Goa began the second period with a high tempo in keeping with how they ended the first. The home side then grew into the game as the half progressed in search of a leveller. Goa started getting pinned further back into their own half with the game approaching full-time.
The Stallions were making all the running in the last 20 minutes of the game. Mutu almost headed in an equaliser in the 74th minute which was a whisker away from the Pune goal. They then almost scrambled in a Nicky Shorey corner eight minutes from time but Kattimani was alert to the danger and collected the loose ball just in front of his goal.
FC Goa dug deep for the remainder of normal time and four minutes of additional time – offering stubborn resistance to Pune’s attacking forces. The Gaurs, however, were undone by a last-gasp effort by danger-man Mutu who brilliantly guided in his shot past a diving Kattimani with virtually the last attack of the game to make it 2-2 in another thrilling Hero ISL match.
Goa remained the leaders with 15 points from nine matches while Pune overtook Delhi for the second spot on goal difference. However, they have played one game more.
Club Awards- FC Pune City and FC Goa
Swift Moment of the Match – Rafael Coelho [FC Goa] (watch here)
Amul Fittest Player of the Match – Didier Zokora [FC Pune City]
ISL Emerging Player of the Match – Eugeneson Lyngdoh [FC Pune City] (Watch here)
Hero of the Match – Lucio [FC Goa]