The Stallions’ foreign troika helped script a memorable away success.
FC Pune City came up with a stunning 4-1 rout of defending champions ATK at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in the ninth match of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 on Sunday. Marcelinho scored a brace for the visitors with Rohit Kumar and Emiliano Alfaro adding to the tally, though Bipin Singh had equalised briefly through a sublime free-kick.
ATK fashioned an early chance in the sixth minute when Keegan Pereira lifted in a free kick into the box, but confusion between Hitesh Sharma and Jordi Figueras Montel made the chance go begging. Even though ATK kept up with their attacks, it was FC Pune City who grabbed the lead against the run of play in the 13th minute. Emiliano Alfaro found acres of space to go on a free run down the left flank after catching Tom Thorpe off-guard. He then teed up Marcelinho who came up with a perfect finish to give the Stallions the lead.
The home team surged forward with wave after wave of attacks in response and nearly got the equaliser in the 28th minute. Zequinha stung Kamaljit Singh’s palms with a shot from distance and the rebound fell to Hitesh Sharma, who, however, with the goal at his mercy, scuffed his lines with an extra touch. The game was more stop and play for the remainder of the half, with free-flowing football taking a back seat. As a result, the teams went into the halftime break with the visitors leading by a goal.
ISL 2017-18 Match highlights: ATK 1-4 FC Pune City
ATK took the attack to Pune right from the restart and were rewarded with a goal five minutes into the half. A free-kick went the home team’s way and Bipin Singh stepped up to exquisitely curl it in off the underside of the crossbar. But their joy was short-lived. The very next minute, they seemed to switch off from a Pune corner. Kumar took advantage of the lapse and sneaked into the defence to head the ball home.
Again at the hour mark, the visitors extended their lead to two goals owing to some good fortune. Diego Carlos’ cross was headed out by Prabir Das to find Rafael Lopez, who headed it down to Marcelinho, who in turn collected it and let fly. The shot took a wicked deflection off Montel and wrong-footed a hapless Debjit Majumder to roll into the net.
It got even better for Pune as they added a fourth in the 80th minute to put the game to bed. After a silly error from Keegan Pereira, Marcelinho this time went on a run down the right flank and found Alfaro with plenty of space. The Uruguayan took it away from Prabir and calmly slotted it past a diving Debjit. That turned out to be the last piece of action from the match as Pune got their first victory of the season courtesy the decisive 4-1 win.
Club award: FC Pune City
Moment of the Match: Rohit Kumar
Winning Pass of the Match: Emiliano Alfaro
Fittest Player of the Match: Zequinha
Emerging Player of the Match: Bipin Singh
Hero of the Match: Marcelinho