Pune, April 19: Missed chances and defensive errors cost Pune FC as they threw away a one goal lead to go down 1-2 to East Bengal in an I-League Round 25 encounter at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex here Saturday.
Winger Anthony D’Souza (39th minute) put Pune ahead in the first half before strikes from forward Chidi Edeh (72nd) and substitute Seimilen Doungel (75th) handed East Bengal three points. Pune’s third consecutive loss means they stay seventh with 31 points.
Coach Mike Snoei made five changes to the line-up, handing starts to Anas Edathodika, Zohmingliana Ralte, Mumtaz Akhtar, Anthony D’Souza and Thongkhosiem Haokip. Both teams took time to settle and went close on a couple of occasions in the opening quarter.
East Bengal created the first close chance in the 22nd minutes. With playmaker Sueoka getting into the clear on the left, inside the box, his shot from point-blank range was saved by ‘keeper Amrinder Singh. Medio Subodh Kumar’s 30-yard effort came of the woodwork 10 minutes later as East Bengal started to push.
At the other end, after several half chances, Pune finally took the lead. Attacker Riga Mustapha found Haokip on the edge of the box. The young striker sent a cheeky through ball to Anthony, who calmly slotted home from close range.
Moments later, left-back Gurjinder Kumar’s long range attempt on a solo run went inches wide at the far post. Pune FC took their advantage into the breather.
The hosts came out all guns blazing in the second half creating chance after chance. However, some stubborn goalkeeping by East Bengal custodian Gurpreet Singh kept the visitors in the game.
Minutes after the hour mark, the tall keeper saved defender Calum Angus’ powerful free-kick but the rebound fell back for the Englishman, whose volley flew over.
A minute later, Riga got into the clear on the left thanks to Anthony’s backheel but his left-footed strike was saved. Four minutes later Riga was once again denied by Gurpreet, who palmed away the effort.
As Pune kept on pressing, a defensive error in the midfield allowed the visitors back into the game. Picking up a stray ball, East Bengal started an attack from the right flank. Ryuji got into the clear on the edge of the box on the right and slid the ball inside to Chidi, who scored from close.
Three minutes later it went from bad to worse for the hosts as unmarked substitute Doungel headed home Ryuji’s cross in from the left to put the visitors 2-1 up.
Into the final quarter, Pune put heart and soul into getting the equaliser. However, Gurpreet single-handedly kept the visitors in the game, pulling out some decent saves to deny Calum and substitute Mirjan Pavlovic. Moments later, Mirjan’s header off Calum’s cross in from the left agonisingly went inches wide.
Pune FC kept on pushing up but the visitors adopted time-wasting tactics to hold on to their lead.