The defender was sent off in the second half as the Blues came from behind to win.
FC Pune City suffered a third home loss in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 after table-toppers Bengaluru FC came from behind to beat them 3-1 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune on Thursday. The Stallions were down to 10 men for most of the second half after Baljit Sahni was shown two yellow cards. The Blues made good use of the man advantage and scored thrice to come away with maximum points.
Pune head coach, Ranko Popovic made no effort to hide his disappointment regrading the red card while speaking to the media at the post-match press conference. “Until that point (the sending off), I don’t think they had any serious action,” he stated. “The key moment of the game was probably the red card, but before that Diego (Carlos) had a chance to make it 2-0. If Diego had scored, then the game would have been different. But it is part of the game. Baljit Sahni is not guilty because we lost the game, but he had a big influence.”
The Serbian took time to explain why he took off Emiliano Alfaro for defender Damir Grgic when the score was 1-1. “Alfaro had to be substituted because he has been playing for three or four weeks like a Lion,” he revealed. “The others also have to learn to play for the team. This is important, especially if you have one player less. It is okay to lose the game, but you must put everything on the pitch.”
Popovic also heaped praise on Adil Khan’s performance after the midfielder scored again, making it back-to-back strikes in his last two outings for the Stallions. “Adil (Khan) played well, and was comfortable in his position because he’s a player who needs a little bit of liberty,” the 50-year-old said. “He deserved the goal because he was looking for it. We need to be a bit more like Adil. Today unfortunately, we did not have all the players in the level which is necessary for these kinds of games. We tried, we fought, and we had some chances.”
Speaking to the media during the post-match press-conference was a satisfied Bengaluru FC coach, Albert Roca, who began by expressing his delight in winning what he admits was a tough encounter.
“For sure we are happy about this victory,” Roca said. “We knew it would be difficult today. Pune had a very good first half. They had put us in trouble and we could not play the game that we wanted because they played quite good. In the second half, we started better and after the red card, things had completely changed. We have a talented team and we took advantage of this situation.”
Bengaluru themselves were victims of a red-card incident (against FC Goa), and the Spaniard insisted that the beneficiary teams should be able to make their advantage count. “Sometimes we can profit from it (man advantage) and take advantage, and other times it can happen to us,” Roca explained. “What happened in Goa was a real shame, as we were punished so much. But today the red card changed things for us. But you need to know how to manage the situation, it is not easy.”
The Spaniard also spoke about the importance of fighting back from difficult situations. “What is important is to fight and to learn these things,” he stated. “I have told my goalkeeper to not make any errors today, but we are human beings. Every time we make mistakes. We made a tactical mistake when conceding the first goal. It happens, but we are trying to be better. Today the circumstances went against Pune.”