The Pune FC were handed a 2-0 opening game jolt by the Army Red in the quarterfinal group phase of the 126th Durand Cup at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi.
A goal in either half,first off a penalty-kick conversion by Vipin TV (36th minute) and later by Lallidianmawia (87th) consigned Pune FC to defeat in their first competitive outing of the season.
Playing with a squad comprising players playing their first big match,Pune FC took time to settle down as their opponents came at them with full force. The Caitano Costa-led team played cleverly and restricted the physically superior Army team to a midfield battle with both the teams failing to create any clear scoring chances.
Pune FC went close to create a first chance when striker Subhasish Bose (9th) let-fly a powerful left footer,which was saved by the diving Army goalkeeper AK Balwant.
Responding to the attack,the opponents came close to scoring five minutes later. Arjun Tudus try from just outside the left side of the box rattled the crossbar. Army Red kept the heat on,and six minutes later,winger Santu Subba shot just wide from inside the penalty area.
The young Pune FC side seemed to be feeling the pressure,with Kaushal Singh earning the first yellow card of the game in the 23rd minute. The Red Lizards were dealt a huge blow,a minute later,when senior midfielder Prakash Thorat had to limp off the field due to an injury. Thorat was replaced by Altamash Sayed.
In the 36th minute,Pune FC conceded a penalty after goalkeeper Shahinlal Meloly brought down Lallidianmawia inside the box. The resultant spot kick was put in by Vipin TV after he sent Meloly to the wrong side.
After the interval,the opponents continued their upward surge as DK Mahto came in with a shot from across the goal,which went just over the bar. At the hour mark,Pune FCs Henry Monsang was brought down outside the box and the resultant free kick stooped dangerously towards Subhasish Bose,who failed to connect well.
With Pune FC desperately seeking an equaliser,their all-out attack led to Army Red taking advantage through a swift counter,which ended with Lallidianmawia scoring from close range to make it 2-0.
In the 90th minute,Pune FCs Kaushal Singh was sent off for his second yellowafter he brought down Herojit Singh at the edge of the penalty box. The subsequent free-kick by Arjun Tudu was then brilliantly tipped over by Meloly to keep the scoreline at 2-0. Pune FC next play ONGC on September 13th.