Pune FC (PFC) have made it to the top three in I-League for the first time in this season after trouncing Chirag United in their round 22 match at EMS Stadium,Kochi,on Sunday.
PFC shattered the morale of Chirag United in the first half itself in their home turf by scoring three goals. That was not all; Chirag United now look at a relegation given that they are languishing at the bottom of the table after the defeat. With this victory,PFC have 40 points and are one point behind KF East Bengal and seven points behind league leaders Dempo SC.
The 3-0 win came in the form of strikes by Mandjou Keita (fifth minute),Subash Singh (sixth minute) and Arata Izumi (39th minute). The team looked not bothered by the issues that PFC coach Derrick Pereira had listed out before the match the hot and humid conditions at EMS Stadium and the complacency that tends to creep in when higher ranked teams play the lower ranked ones.
PFC,which retained the same squad as they had against their home outing against Pailan Arrows,started off with an all-out offensive that opened up the Chirag defence.
First,Mandjou Keita received a fine cross from Subhash to head the ball home past keeper Sharath and defenders Charles Dizah and Sherin Sam. A minute later,Keita gave in a pass to Subhash who gave it the most delicate of passes to send the visitors 2-0 up. The battle,thereafter,was mostly contained to the mid-field.
Chirag too got a chance to cut the lead when custodian Subrata Paul miscalculated his charge to cut down Vineet C Ks run from the right. With the rival player getting round Subrata,he centred for striker David Sunday who messed up with his first touch and allowed the PFC defence to clear.
Eleven minutes from the half time,Arata finally earned the reward for his hard work in a well worked-out move. Caitano Costa floated a free kick to Karma,who did well to draw out a defender and play to Keita. The striker,in turn,laid it up for Arata to slot home,sending PFC three goals clear of Chirag.
The second half saw Chirag United trying to build the pressure on PFC. Strikers Sukhwinder Singh and Vineet tried to open Subrata Pauls goal but were agonisingly denied the opportunity.
At the other end,a collision between the Chirag Kerala keeper and Keita briefly held up play for some time. On resumption,striker Sunday utilized Asifs cross to fire over from long.
Forced on the defensive,PFC broke free with Keitas attempt saved by the keeper,which resulted in the rebound for Subash who ended up colliding with the custodian as he went for the tap. While Karma was excellent on the flank all through,the PFC strikers had abundant chances created,including one by Keita in the 71st minute that ended in an offside. PFCs next match is against Salgaocar SC at their home stadium on Sunday.