kolkata: FC Pune City defeated Mumbai City 2-1 in a closely fought first Maharashtra derby of the Indian Super League season 4 at the Sree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune, on Wednesday. The home side staged a remarkable comeback despite going a goal behind, early in the first half. Star striker Emiliano Alfaro scored a brace, including a last minute goal to earn his side three valuable points, after Balwant Singh had given Mumbai an unexpected lead in the first-half.
However it was ‘Islanders’ who were better for most part of the match, with Pune clicking on crunch situations, to take the game in their favour. The trio of Balwant, Santos and Emana constantly threatened the opposition box with darting runs. Their hard-work bore fruit in the opening minutes itself, when former Chennaiyin FC man Balwant’s shot from outside the edge of the box found the net in the 15th minute, after he was allowed to run free by a lacklustre Pune defence.
The goal seemed to work as a wake up call for the noisy neighbours, who looked in shape both defensively and in attacks after going behind. Winger Diego Carlos made some wonderful runs in the right channel often creating some space for himself and sending in crosses into the box. Pune however failed to equalise, despite keeping more possession as the first-half drew to an end.
The ‘Stallions’ started similarly in the second-half seeing more of the ball and looked sharp in attacks. They nearly equalised in the 54th minute when Marcelinho dribbled past the Mumbai defence, before sending a wonderful cross into the box for Alfaro, but the Uraguyan striker failed to meet his header with the ball.
Things however settleed soon in the 72nd minute when Diego Carlos was fouled in the Mumbai box by Raju Gaikwad. Alfaro stepped up and made no mistake from the resulting penalty-kick to make it 1-1 for Pune. The game seemed to have suddenly changed gear as both sides began to show an urgency in their attacks. The ‘Islanders’ who looked to be better side for the 70 odd minutes of the match, suddenly seemed way-ward and scratchy, failing to clear long balls while also lacking the bite in attacks.
The home side desperate for a win, did everything they could but found it hard to unlock the Mumbai defence. Jonathan Lucca who had come on as a substitue made all the difference in the end. His defence splitting pass in the last minute of the extra rime found Diego who had been making tirless run in the all through the evening. One-on-one with the goalkeeper and with a teammate to help, Diego passed the ball forwards a lurking Alfaro, who and no qualms of netting the ball into an open net.
Mumbai lossed the plot, despite being the better team on the night. Pune’s Diego who earned two assists also praised the hooter, as Pune for home with all three points available.