Another Hero Indian Super League match has ended in a goalless draw. This has taken the tally of such matches to 5 in less than 10 days,. Add two more drawn games and you get 7 matches in which no decisions have come. Despite the thrill that football moments provide to spectators and television viewers, the best entertainment comes from the goals scored. On this aspect, the Hero ISL has been found wanting. On November 15, Guwahati hosted FC Pune City FC and after 90 minutes, it was still 0-0. It would be difficult to find another tournament, in which 7 out of 8 matches end with no decision. Football suffers in such matches as do the spectators. At Guwahati, neither the hosts nor Pune City FC could convert the chances that came their way. Although NorthEast United had a higher ball possession on the percentage basis, they missed out on the chances near the Pune goal-mouth. The battle was mostly confined to the midfield and although Koke and Kostas Katsouranis on either side played brilliant individual games, they could not engineer the meaningful finish for their teams.
As the match began, the two sides tried to wrest the early advantage as Pune responded with a counter attack against NEUFC’s initial forays. But the forwards on both sides lost the ball early and it presented a boring competition. In the 18th minute, NorthEast United got close to scoring, when Koke sent a sweet cross inside, where Alan Deory was in the best position to score. But Deory’s header went off the target. In the 20th minute, Koke sent a nice corner and several players jumped to meet the ball with their heads but despite a NorthEast player getting his head first, the ball went off target. Seven minutes later, it was Koke again as he ran fast and got into the box and side passed to Mtonga. But it was disappointment once again as Mtonga shot wide. Koke was doing his best but ironically, he failed to derive the required support from the NEUFC forwards. In the 28th minute, the ball touched the hand of a Pune defender and Koke cried for a free- kick but the referee probably didn’t see and only a throw-in was allowed. The game was mostly confined to the Pune half but the NorthEast players couldn’t find their shots right. Eight minutes before the breather, Pune got a golden chance, when Davide Colomba got a long through pass near the NEUFC goal but his first time strike was brilliantly stopped by goalkeeper Rehenesh, who has exemplified the art of goalkeeping in this tournament. With the halftime score of 0-0, the teams went off the field for the break.
The second half began just like the first with both teams attempting to break the deadlock but not succeeding. It was now time for Pune City’s Greek star Kosta Katsouranis to step up his game and he tried to control the proceedings from the midfield. For NEUFC, it was Koke again, who continued to lead the attack on the Pune goal. But the finishing remained a problem for both sides. Yet again the NorthEast united dominated the ball possession but the chances went abegging. NEUFC made their first change as James Keene went out and Isaac Chansa came in. A few minutes into the second half, Mtonga, Koke and Felipe combined to fashion out a promising move but their bad luck found Len in an off-side position. Kostas kept charging in for Pune and for once he succeeded in finding Vadocz near the strike area but Vadcoz faltered. With half an hour left for full time, players from both sides tried to find the targets from long range but that was only too optimistic. On most occasions, NorthEast United looked more likely to score but either the target was missed or the goalkeeper denied them. Pune city brought Asutosh Mehta for Israil Gurung and Alen Deory went off to make way for Zodingliana Ralte for NorthEast United. With 15 minutes remaining, Pune City brought Bolado for Penant. But all these substitutions did not result into any meaningful difference. Koke had one final chance in the 83rd minute from a superb through ball but his shot went straight to Bhattacharya for a routine save. Three minutes were added to the regulation time but the match still ended goalless.
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