FC Pune City 0-2 Northeast United
KICK-OFF: Nov 27, 7.30PM (IST) (GMT +5.30)
Channel: Star Sports HD1, Star Sports 1, Star Sports 3.
Streaming: Hotstar, Jio TV.
Highlights: Click Here
Venue: Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex.
FC Pune City will look to continue to resurrect their season when they face off against a resilient Northeast United at the Balewadi Stadium. Pune City handed Jamshedpur their first defeat of the season after grabbing a late winner in their previous encounter. The win over Jamshedpur was Pune’s first win of the season and restored a bit of confidence after what has been a disaster of a season for them compounded by managerial changes.
However, getting a win against Northeast United might prove to be a difficult proposition. Pune should ideally focus on a defence-first approach and maintain their shape during the game. If they are solid at the back, they have enough firepower upfront in Marcelinho, Iain Hume and Diego Carlos to get a goal and a result from this game. If they lose at home tonight, there is a real danger of their season going in a downward spiral.
Coach Pradhyum Reddy begs to differ. In the pre-match presser, he said Pune will play attacking football.
“We have tried it in a couple of games, where we went in with a more conservative approach, and it did not work. With the attacking arsenal we have in our squad, I think it is best for us to have an attacking mindset. We need points on the table. We cannot afford to pick up just a draw here and there. A win could really propel us and put us in a much better position.”
Northeast United will be gung-ho going into this game after a thrilling injury-time comeback in their last game against Kerala Blasters. The Nigerian International Bartholomew Ogbeche has scored on-demand this season with seven goals from seven appearances and is second behind FC Goa’s Corominas on the goalscoring charts.
Ogbeche has found goal-scoring company in Juan Cruz Mascia, the Uruguayan forward who has drawn comparison to Diego Forlan in the past. Mascia won a penalty and scored a stunning volley in the dying minutes against Kerala to pick up all three points for the Highlanders. In midfield, Northeast United will rely on another Uruguayan in Federico Gallego who has been on song this season with goals and assists. Gallego has been ably assisted by the Indian International Rowllin Borges who’s covered plenty of ground and has contributed with two goals and two assists from seven appearances.
A win tonight will take Northeast United into second position, but it’s quite possible for Pune City to spring a surprise at home considering NEUFC narrowly won against Kerala and lost two matches prior to that.
FULL-TIME: FC Pune City 0-2 Northeast United
92′ – GOAL 0-2 (Juan Cruz Mascia, Penatly, Northeast United)
91′ – yellow card (Sahil Panwar, Pune City)
80′ – sub (Pune City: Nikhil Poojari [IN] Marcelinho [OUT])
75′ – yellow card (Provat Lakra, NEUFC)
72′ – sub (NEUFC: Provat Lakra [IN] Reagan Singh [OUT])
62′ – sub (NEUFC: L. Khawlhring [IN] Redeem Tlang [OUT])
61′ – yellow card (Ashutosh Mehta, Pune City)
56′ – yellow card (Marcelinho, Pune City)
46′ – sub (Pune City: Marko Stankovic [IN] Iain Hume [OUT])
23′ – GOAL! 0-1 (B. Ogbeche, Assist: Federico Gallego, NEUFC)
Northeast United leapfrogged into second position after a gritty win against a Pune City side who stood toe to toe against them every step of the way. The starting XI for Northeast United surprisingly featured both their forwards. Ogbeche and Mascia started upfront with Federico Gallego who was given a free rein backed by Rowllin Borges and Jose Leudo in midfield.
FC Pune City started off the block by pressing Northeast United high up on the pitch and at some points in the game had as many as six players in the opposition half. They even had a couple of early sighters on goal until a goal by Ogbeche proved to be the sucker-punch.
A delivery into the box by the Uruguayan Federico Gallego in the 23rd minute saw the Pune City players mysteriously drawn towards the ball while the NEUFC trio of Jose Leudo, Masci and Ogbeche were lying in wait at the far post with a lone Pune City defender marking them. Ogbeche found himself at the right place at the right time and scored his eighth goal of the season in as many games. He is now level with Coro on top of the goalscoring charts.
The second goal for the Highlanders came in second-half stoppage time after the 6’3″ Mascia won a penalty after bringing himself down in the 18-yard box off a weak shoulder barge by Sahil Panwar. Mascia took the penalty to make it 2-0 and NEUFC had all three points in the bag.
Pune City played their hearts out in this game, but it just wasn’t enough. Iain Hume could only play the first 45 minutes and was substituted for Stankovic at half-time. They did have a right go after conceding the first goal and won as many as 12 corners. The corners didn’t help as the Highlanders have tall players across the pitch to defend set-pieces.
Looking through the xG lens this game throws up some interesting inferences:
- Federico Gallego was the key player in attack for NEUFC with four key passes. One among them was an assist which essentially won the game. The attacking midfielder ran the game and was involved in everything good that happened in attack for NEUFC. He was rightly adjudged man of the match.
- Doubling up on strikers proved beneficial for NEUFC with them dominating shots on goal which is an ideal situation for any team. The two strikers scored a goal apiece and got Northeast United the three points.
- For Pune City, the lack of a midfielder on par with NEUFC’s Gallego saw their quality of chances created suffer (Expected Assists).
- The bulk of attempts on goal fell to Robin Singh in not so great attacking positions. Robin Singh hasn’t been at his best for a while now and is not necessarily a scorer of great goals. If Marcelinho had been at the end of these attempts, Pune City could’ve probably got the goal they deserved this game.
To conclude, Pune City were on par with NEUFC for large parts of the game, but just lacked the quality in possession and in the final third. Northeast United’s defence deserves credit as well for defending resolutely in the second half and keeping Pune away from areas of the field where they could’ve made a difference.
Pune have a tough test at hand in their next match against Bengaluru Nov. 30 and Coach Pradhyum Reddy will feel nostalgic as he revisits his former happy hunting ground.