Pune edge Mumbai to lift the Maharashtra Inter District Football Championship for Sub-Junior Boys

Pune District edged Mumbai District 2-1 in a penalty shootout after a the tie finished 1-1 after the regulation eighty minutes to win the Maharashtra Inter District Football Championship for Sub-Junior Boys held at the Sports Complex Ground in Panchavati, Nashik on Wednesday morning. Both Mumbai and Pune scored the same number of goals and conceded just one goal in the competition, but the boys from Pune held their nerves in the crucial penalty shootout to win the title.

Pune too came into the game in red-hot form after a 7-0 victory over Nashik in the semi-final, but came under some early pressure from the Mumbai side who seized control of the ball possession. Despite dominating the ball, Mumbai were finding it difficult o find gaps in the Pune defence who consolidated themselves into a good defensive shape early on.

As the game progressed, Mumbai tried to make good use of their pace upfront and bombarded the Pune backline with long balls to deal with. After a few unsuccessful attempts, Mumbai finally found joy in the 20th minute, when Utsav Pradhan beat the offside trap to race past the Pune backline and fire into the back of the net to give Mumbai the crucial lead in the game.

Pune’s response to going behind was a good one as they didn’t bog down after the setback and almost equalized the score through a stunning free kick which was heroically kept out by Chinmay Shinde at full stretch. Few minutes later, it was the Pune goalkeeper Austin D’Cruz who earned his bread with a brave save on the line to deny Mumbai’s Cornelius Rodrigues whose shot from point blank range was saved well by D’Cruz.

Mumbai held their 1-0 advantage at half time after being the better of the two teams in the first half.

Pune came back strongly in the second half and began to dominate proceedings. Mumbai who were trying to protect their lead started to fall deeper into their own half and invited pressure on them. Pune were relentless in their efforts were eventually rewarded seven minutes from time as Pune’s hero from the semi-final, Pranav Kale kept his cool to slot home Pune’s equalizer after a well worked move.

Kale’s goal sent the Final into a penalty shootout where Cornelius Rodrigues put Mumbai ahead in the shootout with a perfect penalty. Mumbai goalkeeper Chinmay then pulled off a save from Rohit Mangle. However Mumbai’s top scorer Ridge D’Mello then missed his penalty kick before Chaitanya Advani restored parity for Pune in the shootout. Mumbai’s Joshua D’Souza then fired his penalty wide before Pune’s goalscorer in the match Pranav Kale put Pune ahead in the shootout. Mumbai’s hopes were dealt a huge blow when Lance Fernandes missed his penalty. However Pune failed to wrap up the game as Pune’s Vinay Kondamur couldn’t convert from the spot. But Utsav Pradhan’s penalty was saved by the Pune goalkeeper Austin D’Cruz to eventually give Pune the win as joy erupted in the Pune dugout.

The game was a cracking game of football which was worthy of being the Final. However it was Pune who kept their cool in the penalty shootout which eventually gave them the win.

Satara’s Yashvardhan More was awarded the prize for the top goal scorer in the tournament. The youngster from Satara scored eight goals in four matches in the tournament.  Mumbai’s Chinmay Shirke won the Best Goalkeeper award, while Pune’s hero in the semi-final and the Final, Pranav Kale was adjudged the Best Player of the Tournament.


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