Substitute Khanthang Paite’s brace in the second half helped Pune FC down Salgaocar FC 2-0 and earn full points in their 10th round match of the I-League at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda here on Sunday.
Khantang Paite, who came in place of Subhash Singh in the 52nd minute of play, scored first goal within 12 minutes of his induction (64th minute) and then added one more in the 78th minute to eventually win the man-of-the match award.
With this win Pune FC have now moved to the fourth place with 17 points in nine matches.
While Dempo SC occupy the top-spot with 25 points, the second spot is held by East Bengal who are now on 24 points. Churchill Brothers with 19 points are on the third position.
The first 15 minutes of the play were all lacklustre with both the teams dishing out a midfield battle, but then as the match progressed on both the teams began threatening each other’s citadel with raids and counter raids.
It was only in the second session that Pune FC began to dominate the proceedings following the right substitutions by their shrewd coach Derrick Pereira.
Derrick brought in Khantang Paite in the strike force substituting Subhash Singh, who is otherwise a sharp shooter and has so far scored five goals in the ongoing I-League.
No sooner did Paite entered there was a total transformation in the match proceedings for the Pune side, as within 12 minutes of his induction he proved his might by scoring a brilliant goal.
Midfielder Douhou Pierre moved up towards the right flank with the ball and then quickly fed striker James Moga who in turn sent the ball to heavily marked Khantang Paite, who hoodwinked the entire Salgaocar defence with a gentle back foot to send the ball to the far corner of the nets, taking even India’s goalkeeper Karanjit Singh by surprise.
Goaded by the success, Pune FC then began to muster courage to take the ball deep inside the rival box on a couple of occasions and quickly scored another goal once again through Khanthang Paite.
Pune FC’s midfielder Karma Tsewang sent a neat cross to Khanthang on the left whose powerful header gave no chance to the Salgaocar keeper.
Salgaocar did produce some good moves in both the sessions even as they had limited resources at their disposal in the form of star players and undeterred by this fact, they had good showing but were unable to score.
Handicapped by lack of good strikers, Salgaocar were unable to penetrate really well inside the Pune FC citadel and when they had some chances, they were unable to take a good shot at the rival goal.
Pune FC coach Derrick Pereira was happy with his team’s win as he maintained that his team prefers to progress match by match.
On the other hand, Salgaocar FC coach David Booth said that there are no excuses for losing the match. He however admitted that he needs a couple of players capable of playing I-league level matches. [NT]