FC Pune City edge out FC Bardez Goa to enter AWES Cup semis
Written by: Ravish R Narvekar
Pune skipper Ashique Kurniyan is set to miss the semis due to a red card.
FC Pune City book their semifinal date with Dempo Sports Club after defeating Football Club de Bardez in their last Group C match of the AWES Cup 2017 played at Duler Stadium yesterday.
Bardez were in a must-win situation as both the teams had won their last match against Dempo Juniors but Pune side had a better goal difference due to a 4-0 win over the Juniors, while The Pink Brigade had defeated Dempo Juniors 3-0.
Pune coach Anshul Katuyar made no changes to his side which earned him the full points in the last match. While Bardez coach Armando Colaco made three changes bringing in Lalbabu Matho, Floyd Fernandes and keeper Aliston Fernandes replacing Dadapir Patil, Stainly D’Silva and custodian Santosh Pujar.
It was just a minute in the match when Bardez almost scored the opener but Floyd saw his powerful strike from inside the box rebound off the crossbar. Jessel Carneiro was instrumental in providing a pinpoint perfect pass to the striker. A few minutes later, Jessel was in action again when he once again sent a perfect pass in the box to Kirtikesh Gadekar but this time Pune keeper Bilal Khan collected it on time.
Pune also came up with a clear chance to take lead but Pawan Kumar headed out from close, off Buanthanglun Samte’s corner. A minute later, they wasted another opportunity when Ashique kurniyan found Gaurav Bora with wonderful free-kick from the left. However, the midfielder headed sky-high from the mouth of the goal.
With just 15 minutes crossed in the match, Bardez once again came up with two back-to-back attacks on the opponents but like the last two attempts, this time also they failed to convert the chances. First, Jessel saw his free-kick slipped off the keeper gloves but went out for a corner. Later, Shubham Desai failed to connect header from close with keeper Bilal out of position.
At the other end, Pune surprisingly took the lead in the 23rd minutes through Gani Ahammed Nigam. Ashique once again came up with a fine cross in the box to the striker who headed in from the close making it 1-0 for the visitors. Pawan had initiated the move with a long free-kick to Ashique at the deep flank.
Bardez refused to give after conceding and created numerous opportunities to find the equaliser, however, the luck was not on their side as none of their moves found the net until the half time. In one of these, Kirtikesh saw his powerful strike from the top of the box blocked by the Pune keeper Bilal.
In between these, Pune also had a chance to double their lead but Bardez keeper Aliston made a superb save to deny Rahul Yadav from in front of the goal.
Bardez coach Armando brought in experienced left back Denzil Franco replacing Lenstan Afonso at the half-time to boost their attacks from the left wing.
Like in the first session, Bardez started on an offensive note as they came close twice in the first five minutes of second half. Jessel cut past a defender and sent curling cross in the box but Pune keeper Bilal brilliantly pushed it for a corner.
A few minutes later, Jessel once again sent a deadly cross in the box but Kirtikesh failed to connect from 6-yards as the defender cleared it off the danger. In the same counter attack, Buanthanglun’s shot just went over the crossbar.
Pune had another chance to further increase their lead when Pawan tried to find Nigam in the box with a through pass but Lalbabu made a diving effort to clear the danger. A very next minute, Pawan saw his powerful header hit the crossbar and came back into the play, off Buanthanglun’s corner.
With just two minutes remaining on the match clock, Pune were reduced to ten men as their skipper Ashique was sent off following a second yellow card for elbowing Bardez’s Dadapeer Patil.
The last few minutes witnessed more aggressive football from the Bardez side but even after dominating in the major parts of the match Bardez could not found the equaliser as the Pune City advanced to the semi-finals with a 1-0 win.
Published: Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:36 AM IST