Pune: Gurtej Singh’s maiden goal followed by Emiliano Alfaro’s first goal in five matches helped FC Pune City register a comeback 2-1 win over Jamshedpur FC at the Sree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here on Wednesday.
The win also took Pune to the pole position, a rung above second placed Bengaluru FC, who have match at hand. Jamshedpur however remained fifth on 16 points from 12 matches.
Needing a win to cut-short the three points gap between them and Pune, it was the ‘Men of Steel’ who started better, iniatiating attacks with intent and although the home side had a first shot goal when Adil Khan’s header from a Marcelinho free-kick sailed inches wide of the bar, Jamshedpur eventually scored in the 29th minute to take the lead.
New signing Wellington Priori, vying for the long ball send in by Jerry, outmuscled Sahil Panwar to enter the box. But it was goalkeeper Vishal Kaith’s blunder that earned him the goal, as the young custodian rushed off his line to close the angle but instead barged into Panwar, allowing Priori to tap the ball into an empty net.
Minutes later the visitors could have doubled their lead when Trinidade Goncalves made mockery of Panwar once again before sending in a cross into the box, that was cheekily send into goal by a Izu Azuka backheel, but it went wide again.
Pune then missed a golden opportunity when Alfaro failed to find the target from a goalmouth melee. But they soon turned the tables around in the second-half.
A goal down at the break, Popovic who made a return to the sidelines after serving a four match suspension, threw both Marko Stankovic and Sarthak Golui into the fold and it worked wonders for the team.
Stankovic was able to pick passes rather easily, while Golui made some surging runs down the flanks. “I told the players (at half-time) if they could change the pressing and organizational style of Jamshedpur FC, you can score one and if you do score the first goal, the second will follow too,” said coach Popovic after the match and it was so.
Pune scored two within the space of four minutes that left the otherwise compact Jamshedpur defence bamboozled at what went wrong. Marcelinho’s corner-kick in the 62nd minute was put into the net by Gurtej, who was left completely unmarked as the ‘Men of Steel’ heavily marked the other.
Four minutes later it was the Brazilian again this time cutting in from the right, before squaring the ball for Alfaro and the Uruguayan made no mistake from a 12 yards distance.
The goals seems to have opened up the Jamshedpur defence that had just conceded nine goals before this, as Pune put up constant attacks, threatening everytime they moved forward.
Jamshedpur though attacked with intensity but that Pune defended deep made it all the more difficult for the visitors to find a way through. Priori could have earned a double at the stoppage time but his shit on goal was blocked by Adil Khan as Pune sailed to the top, their maiden Play-offs chances looking brighter with every match.