After Sunday’s two drawn games at Goa and Kochi, Pune City FC hosted Chennaiyin FC for the 28th match of Hero Indian Super League on Tuesday. Though, all three games ended as draws, they turned out to be engrossing encounters with top-quality football. In their home game against Mumbai City FC on Sunday, Goa couldn’t overcome Mumbai’s defenses and settled for a 0-0 draw. In Sunday’s second match at Kochi, Kerala Blasters Delhi Dynamos were locked in another goalless draw with the two teams mounting attacks against one another but their strong defense denied all scoring chances and in the end the team split the points. On Tuesday, Chennaiyin FC came to Pune for an away game and after a highly entertaining game, the teams settled for a 1-1 draw. Both sides had scoring opportunities but only one each from either side could be converted.
Mumbai played Goa on Sunday in an away game. Goa’s coach Zico brought in Bikramjit Singh and Tolgay Ozbey in the starting line-up and Mumbai replaced Nabi with Peter Costa. As the match began, Mumbai took the first offensive, when Nadong Bhutia got a super cross in front of the goal but he failed to connect with the ball. For Goa, Romeo Fernandes’ pass found Ozebey in the 18th minute, but Ozebey was stopped by Mumbai defenders. In an effective move from Mumbai by Subhash Singh and Andre Moritz, the ball was passed to Gregory Arnolin and when Arnolin passed it back to Moritz for taking the goal, the Mumbai striker was adjudged off-side. Goa played better in the second half, going for attack on many occasions. After half time, Zico brought Ranti Martins in place of Pires to partner Ozbey and Mumbai called Lalrindika Ralte to replace Nadong Bhutia. Nicolas Anelka was kept in check by Goa but he got a free kick in the 69th minute that was easily punched away by Goan goalkeeper Seda. In another move by Anelka, Subhash Singh was released in the 83rd minute but his cross to the far post to Ralte was poor. In dying minutes, Goa had a golden opportunity when Ranti Martins connected to a free kick from Pinheiro but Subrata Paul stopped it on the line. While Mumbai appeared content with the 0-0 finish, Goa were disappointed to throw away the home advantage.
In another Sunday match, Kerala Blasters hosted Delhi at Kochi. The teams began attacking each other’s goal from the start. Delhi played a composed game in trying to keep the ball with them but Kerala forced the pace and created several opportunities. KB could have gone ahead, when, for once, DD lost the possession in their own half but Stephen Pearson’s shot was partially blocked by Van Hout and defender Shouvik Ghosh managed to clear the ball away. The Delhi goalkeeper came to his team’s rescue yet again, when he dived full length after a nice cross from KB’s Andrew Barisic got deflected by DD defender Adil Khan. For long into the first half, KB dominated the game and almost scored, when Barisic found the net but he was ruled offside. After a while, Delhi created chances of their own with Mads Junker firing from point-blank range but his header went directly to the KB goalkeeper. After second half, the teams traded ball possession and Delhi coming close to scoring, when Del Piero’s flicked header released Robert Lalthamuana on the run to the goal and even beat the KB keeper but his chip went wide. Kerala coach brought in Milagres Gonsalves to join Barisic and Hume but the move didn’t pay off immediately. Despite many promising moves from both sides, the match fizzled into a draw but the level of football was top class. The teams finished with one point each and that left KB on sixth place and DD at seventh on the points table.
On Tuesday at Pune, the hosts settled for a 1-1 draw against Chennai. In a highly entertaining match, both teams had their high moments but most chances were lost. Pune made a great start and in 9th minute, Israil Gurung sent a perfect cross from right that found Kostas Katsouranis on the run. The Greek striker shot the ball on half valley to put Pune 1-0 ahead. Chennai went all out for the equalizer and in a close chance Mendoza came running in from right but his powerful curler was somehow blocked by Pune goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya. But Chennai continued attacking the Pune goal. Elano produced a floating free-kick but a Pune defender managed a back-pass to his goalkeeper. Chennai lost their best chance, when Daniele Magliochetti fouled Marco Materazzi in the box and the referee pointed for a spot-kick. But of all people, Elano shot far wide of the right post. Chennai continued to mount more attacks but couldn’t find the equalizer in the first half. Pune also tried to increase their lead but the first half ended with Pune leading 1-0.
The tempo of the match dropped a bit in second half with lesser number of scoring chances but the contest stayed lively. Chennai finally equalized in the 58th minute. Elano had played a long ball to Mendoza, who combined with Balwant Singh. The duo got past Pune’s defense and Mendoza easily beat Pune goalkeeper with a side flick to make it 1-1. The next 30 minutes were spent in attacks and counter attacks but neither side could break the deadlock. The two teams have their next games in two days’ time. Chennai take on Kolkata at Kolkata on November 14, while Pune will go to Guwahati to play North-East United on November 15.