Marcelo Pereira spoilt ATK’s first home match of the season as the Brazilian led FC Pune City’s 4-1 rout of the two-time defending champions in their Indian Super League football fixture.
Last season’s Golden Boot winner Marcelinho once again proved why he was the biggest threat as he struck a double (13th and 60th minutes) and also assisted two other goals in a fine display of wingplay to bury ATK in front of their home fans.
The match was in balance with Pune leading by a slender one-goal margin at halftime, and ATK’s Bipin Singh produced a stunning 50th minute freekick after the changeover much to the joy of the anxious home fans.
But that remained the solitary moment of joy for the most successful ISL franchise as Rohit Kumar scored off a flying header from a Marcelinho freekick within a minute before Emiliano Alfaro completed the rout in the 81st minute with the Brazilian once again playing the assist.
FC Pune City, who lost 2-3 to Delhi Dynamos at home in their ISL opener, thus opened their account in style while it was misery for ATK as they remained on one point that came off a goal-less draw against Kerala Blasters in Kochi.
This was Pune’s fourth win over ATK in the ISL as the two-time former champions have only one win and two draws against their rivals.
As football action returned to the Salt Lake Stadium after the hallowed turf hosted the FIFA Under-17 World Cup final less than a month ago, it was an agonising start for the Teddy Sheringham wards who missed their star player Robbie Keane badly.
The Irishman, who had gone back home to treat an injury, was back and was seen from the sidelines as he looked to be fit for their next fixture in Jamshedpur on December 1.
Pune got off to a dream start capitalising on an awful defensive lapse by Tom Thorpe who misjudged the flight of a long ball allowing Emiliano Alfaro to sneak into the box from left.
The forward squared it off to an unmarked Marcelinho who slotted it past the left of Majumder with a precision finish as the ATK goalkeeper had no chance.
A stunning freekick from ATK forward Bipin Singh cancelled the lead five minutes after the changeover but the home team’s joy was shortlived as Pune regained the lead in one minute.
Wasting no time, Pune bounced back through Rohit Kumar who used Marcelo’s corner to perfection to bury a powerful header past the ATK goalkeeper.
ATK wasted a fine chance in the 24th minute when their Portuguese midfielder Zequinha broke through the heart of midfield with a charging solo run and blasted a shot away on goal from outside the box.
But Kamaljit Singh thwarted the brilliant effort and Hitesh Sharma also failed to score from the rebound with Baljit Sahni making an alert tackle to avoid any danger.
The Pune goalkeeper once again stood out in the 66th minute to thwart an attempt from Robin Singh.