Just the other day, Pune City FC were beaten by the visiting Kerala Blasters, who scored a 2-1 win despite playing a below-par game. Yesterday, Pune had another set of visitors from Eastern India, the North East United Football Club of Guwahati. The home supporters were thoroughly dejected after Pune City FC squandered the one goal lead and allowed KB to walk away with a 2-1 victory against them. Therefore, Monday’s encounter with NE United turned out to be a pleasant as Pune edged past NE United 1-0 by a 88th minute opportunistic strike from the Dutch forward John Goossens, who came in as a substitute after the second half. The victory hoisted Pune to the fourth place in the league table after 5 games. In the Hero India Super League, NE United have been one of the most disciplined teams having conceded just three goals and for them, it was the first away loss in three games out of Guwahati.
From the start of the match, Pune began raiding the NE United half. NEUFC goalkeeper Rehenesh was kept busy by midfielders Lenny Rodrigues and Israil Gurung. In the 13th minute, Gurung got really close but his shot was saved by Rehenesh. In between North-East also produced a counter attack, when Dong Hyun Do dangerously invaded the Pune box and from a close range struck a powerful blow. But his threatening attempt was safely deflected by Pune goalkeeper Anupam Sarkar. Egged on by the locals, Pune kept attacking and didn’t allow many opportunities to NEUFC forwards. The brilliance of Rehenesh came in the way of Pune forward Konstantinos Katsouranis, whose lovely 15th minute chip was brilliantly saved. On another occasion, Katsouranis, sent a beautiful cross from the left flank for his captain David Trezeguet, but a slow reaction from Trezeguet averted the danger for North East. Pune made some optimistic attempts that were way off the target and similarly NE united also responded but neither team looked like really breaking the deadlock. The teams went into the halftime after a goalless first half.
The second-half started with a yellow card for Pune FC’s Pritam Kotal but Pune kept the momentum from the first half. In the 55th minute, both teams made quick moves, beginning with Pune attacking the NE United goal and then NEUFC launching a counter. But these moves could do nothing to change the scoreboard that still showed 0-0. In the 57th minute, NEUFC’s Joan Capdevila found an opening and made a brilliant solo move from close to the midfield and reached near the Pune FC’s penalty area in a flash. But his smart work came to naught as a Pune defender dispossessed him near the goal area. In the 58th minute, Pune coach Colomba made a substitution by sending John Goossens in place of Spanish forward Ivan Bolado. Six minutes later, he made another substitution, when Nigerian Omagbemi Dudu came in for the captain David Trezeguet. The move paid off immediately as both Goossens and Dudu combined well to threaten the NEUFC goal. NEUFC also made a substitution and brought in Milan Singh and James Keene to replace Durgaboro and Dong-Hyun Do.
Goossens showed his class by a spectacular strike but Rehenesh made an equally spectacular save to deny the Dutch forward. It was a powerful shot and if Rehenesh had not dived full length, the ball would have found the target. Another opportunity went in vain for Pune City FC, when Konstantinos Katsouranis shot just wide of the right pole. With just 10 minutes left for regulation time, Israil Gurung sent a promising cross from the right flank that found John Goossens but his strike was blocked by NEUFC defender Aibor Khongjee and Pune got a corner. In the 84th minute, Dudu nearly scored the first goal for his team but yet again it was Rehenesh, who came to the rescue of NE United by his superb show at the goal-mouth. In the 88th minute, however, Pune City FC were rewarded by bringing in John Goossens. The Dutch forward pounced on a rebound, when Dudu’s header hit the crossbar. The Dutchman’s reaction time made the difference as Rehenesh, for once, couldn’t save the pounding hit. As the match ended, the home supporters broke into instant celebrations.