Pune City draw with Kerala Blasters thanks to Sissoko’s first Hero ISL goal
FC Pune City played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Kerala Blasters FC in front of nearly 9,000 fans at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Balewadi on Monday. Cedric Hengbart scored the fastest goal of Hero Indian Super League 2016 to give the visitors an early lead. A deflected-shot by Mohamed Sissoko in the 68th minute rescued a point for Pune.
Kerala scored in the third minute when Hengbart reacted quickly to finish with his left-foot after Pune failed to clear an Azrack Mahamat shot on goal. It was the French centre-back’s first goal in the Hero ISL and the fastest of the league this season.
Jesus Tato volleyed wide from the edge of the penalty area 11 minutes later after an attempted clearance by the Blasters fell invitingly for the Spaniard. Dramane Traore was next to try and restore parity but his header from a corner sailed over the bar.
Pune’s next chance also went to Traore in the 23rd minute. The Malian found himself with space in the box when Aaron Hughes misjudged the flight of the ball and subsequently missed his header. Kerala’s skipper was let off the hook, however, after Traore dragged his shot wide of the target.
Mehtab Hossain came close to making it 2-0 for the Blasters in the 36th minute with a shot from range that went inches wide of goal. Tato whipped in a dangerous cross for Traore moments later but Hughes managed to apply enough pressure to deny him a clear header on goal.
The first chance of the second half went to Mohammed Rafi thanks to a brilliant lay-off by Michael Chopra. Gouramangi Singh blocked Rafi’s shot on goal though to give his side a fighting chance in the game. Traore then almost capitalized on a weak back-pass from Josu Currais in the 56th minute. The Blasters’ goalkeeper Sandip Nandy rushed off his line and did just about enough to thwart the danger.
Traore finally put the ball in the back of the net two minutes later courtesy of a powerful header from a Rahul Bheke cross. Joy turned to disappointment within seconds for the Stallions after the lines-man raised his flag for off-side to cancel out the equaliser.
Pune eventually got their equaliser in the 68th minute with their marquee player and skipper Sissoko leading from the front. The 31-year-old’s shot from the edge of the box deflected off Hughes, giving Nandy no chance in goal.
Kerala Blasters raised their game after the leveller. A goal-bound header by substitute Faruk Chaudhary forced Edel Bete into a spectacular save in the 72nd minute. Another one of Kerala’s substitutes, Antonio German nearly made immediate impact shortly after with a shot on goal that was deflected behind for a corner.
The last chance of the match belonged to the visitors as well. Chaudhary found himself with space on the right but Narayan Das put in a perfectly-timed sliding tackle to make sure the game ended at 1-1 as the Stallions’ search for their first win at home continues.
Club award: Shared by both clubs
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Mehtab Hossain
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Azrack Mahamat
Maruti Suzuki Swift Moment of the Match: Mohamed Sissoko
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Dharmaraj Ravanan
Hero of the Match: Cedric Hengbart