Adrian Mutu’s late strike salvage a point for FC Pune City

FC Goa and FC Pune City played out a 2-2 draw in a thrilling round nine clash of the HERO Indian Super League (ISL) season 2 at Balewadi Stadium in Pune, on Sunday evening.

The draw takes the Gaurs a point clear of Delhi Dynamos FC at the top of the table with 15 points from nine outings as the home team are now tied on points with the Delhi franchise from as many fixtures.

There was only one change in the visitors first eleven ever since Zico had an unchanged line-up for the first three matches this season. The injured defender Luciano Sobrosa was replaced by Romeo Fernandes who played as a right wing back.

David Platt has been known for his rotation policy and made four changes from the side that lost 2-0 to Kerala Blasters FC with Gouramangi Moirangthem, Manish Maithani, James Balley and marque player Adrian Mutu all starting.

Eugenson Lyngdoh the opener in the 32nd minute. Rafael Coelho Luiz (34’) and Jonatan Lucca (44’) brought FC Goa back into the game, but then Adrian Mutu (90+4’) scored the late equaliser to salvage a point for Pune City.

The Goan defense was kept busy early on. Mutu’s free-kick deflected off the wall after the Romanian was fouled by Lucio and Lyngdoh missed another opportunity with a snapshot from outside the box soon after.

FC Goa had their first chance in the 15th minute when Leo Moura tricked his way on the left but Thongkhosiem Haokip was not able to control the cross inside the box.

Didier Zokora’s through ball for Mutu saw the latter outrun Gregory Arnolin in the 19th minute. Laxmikant Kattimani took the impact of the shot on his body before the danger was averted by his defense.

Minutes later Raju Gaikwad forced a save from Pune City goalkeeper Steven Simonsen off Moura’s corner while Roger Johnson put his body in the way of Rafael’s attempt on goal. Simonsen had to also be alert to deflect Rafael’s back heel on goal and to save Romeo’s shot on goal as Goa started feeling comfortable in the attack.

However, that could not keep the Orange Army quiet for long as Johnson’s header off a Nicholas Shorey corner from the left merely missed the far post in the 30th minute.

Then came the goal two minutes later as Johnson intercepted a pass in the midfield which Zokora carried through all the way into the FC Goa box and squared it to his right for Lyngdoh, who scored in the return tie, to tap in.

FC Pune City looked to have relaxed on their lead far too early as Moura picked Rafael who strolled past a few orange shirts before smashing the ball at the back of Simonsen’s nets to score the 34th minute equaliser.

Rafael’s mazy sprints kept the home team’s backline on their heels, but he unselfishly chose to pass the ball to Lucca in the 40thminute and the latter forced a save from Simonsen from outside the box.

The corner Moura could have scored a fantastic curler from about 20 yards out which was tipped above his post by the Pune custodian.

Lucca then went on to give FC Goa the lead in the 44th minute as he received a pass from Narayan Das and made space for himself before his rasping shot that was goal bound  anyway took a wicked deflection off Johnson leaving Simonsen helpless in his area.

Five minutes into the second half, Haokip was unlucky not to score as his attempt was blocked en route goal by Johnson after the Manipuri was fed by Moura at the edge of the box.

As the battle intensified in the midfield, Zico was forced to make his first change in the 60th minute and the FC Goa tactician brought none other than former Pune City striker Dudu Omagbemi to replace the injured Rafael.

Out of the blues, Lyngdoh’s from the right startled Kattimani at his near post. The FC Goa goalkeeper just about thwarted the shot wide for a corner in the 67th minute. Less than 10 minutes later, Mutu’s header off Shorey’s cross from the left grazed past the left post.

The Goan shot stopper showed a good piece of reflex action as he kept out Arnolin’s deflection to Shorey’s flag kick in the 82ndminute. Kattimani once again held on to his nerves to get hold of a header by Tuncay Sanli, who had just replaced Zokora, off Bikash Jairu’s cross.

In an attempt to seal the win, Moura received a pass from Dudu and tried to chip the ball over Simonsen who was a few yards off his line. However, the shot had a bit too much on it as it sailed over the bat in the 88th minute. A minute later, Romeo blasted a shot across the face of the goal, being found by Moura.

It was still not over for Kattimani who produced two back to back incredible saves to deny Sanli and Manish Maithani in the dying minutes but that all changed when Mutu buried his left footed volley at the back of the net in literally the last minute of the five minutes of added time.

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