A Gregory Nelson goal was enough to send John Gregory’s men to the top of the table.
Nelson’s calm finish in the 83rd minute was the difference between the two sides at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai, on Saturday as the visitor’ wretched record against Chennaiyin continued. Pune have never won against Chennaiyin in eight meetings now.
The victory takes Chennaiyin FC to the top of the table with 20 points from 10 games while Bengaluru FC are second with 18 points and set to play against bottom placed Dynamos next. Pune City with 16 points are placed third but will feel threatened that FC Goa (16) and Mumbai City (14) can both overtake them in the 10th round of the League.
Pune City began this game without their top goalscorer Marcelinho but showcased as if they did not miss him at all on the field. In the first 15 minutes itself, Pune City could have been three goals to the good, should they have shown better finishing.
The man who was pulling the strings and making everything happen was Emiliano Alfaro, a regular goal poacher himself.
Alfaro’s first move came in the eighth minute when he picked up Diego Carlos with a brilliant through ball which Carlos, all alone with the goalkeeper to beat, could not finish as Karanjit Singh dived at his feet. The rebound fell at the feet of young Ashique Kuruniyan but his attempt was blocked by Mailson Alves.
Kuruniyan had another chance almost immediately when, who else but Alfaro found him unmarked again, but this time his touch missed the target by a whisker.
Carlos, on the other hand, seemed determined to make up for his earlier miss and almost found the back of the net, only for the goalpost to stand in between after his curler from just outside the box seemed destined for goal.
Chennaiyin FC were taken aback by Pune’s strong start but had done well to absorb the pressure. The hosts should have gone ahead in the 23rd minute when Adil Khan shoved Gregory Nelson from behind and the referee pointed at the spot. Rene Mihelic stepped up to take the resultant penalty but his low effort was parried away by goalkeeper Vishal Kaith.
Good save or poor penalty – what’s your take?
The second session saw chances few and far between but the home team had the last laugh as Nelson secured the winner in the 83rd minute. It was Raphael Augusto who made it happen with a delightful through ball which found Nelson on the right. The winger showed good composure to first sidestep his marker and then finish it off in style.