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Bagan lose to Pune FC

Pune: Pune FC rallied to beat McDowell Mohun Bagan 2-1 in a crucial I-League match at the Balewadi Sports Complex, here on Tuesday.

The victory takes Pune FC to 22 points from 13 matches while Bagan stay two points ahead from same number of matches.

The match was a perfect example of 11 players playing as an unit versus a team depending on a single individual.

Bagan paid the price for their over-dependence on Okolie Odafe and a weak defence. All balls were addressed to Odafe thus making Pune FC’s job easier.

To make matters worse for Bagan, NP Pradeep, playing as the right back and stopper Anwar Ali found it hard to gauge and intercept the wave of Pune attacks.

The yawning gaps in the Bagan defence made all wonder as to how a star-studded and high-spending team’s players could afford to be so slow and lacklustre.

But it was Bagan who began on an aggressive note. Odafe put Bagan in the lead in the 22nd minute. Receiving a pass just outside the Pune FC box, the goal-machine thundered a grounder which beat the diving rival goalkeeper Abhra Mondal.

The minimal space in which Odafe executed it, spoke of his class.

But Pune FC regrouped fast. They slowly took possession of the midfield and spotted out a slow Pradeep and Anwar as the weaklinks in the Bagan defence. And it paid dividends when substitute striker Jeje Lalpekhlua equalised for Pune with his first touch in the 36th minute.

Pune FC left-half, the livewire Lester Fernandes made a mockery of Pradeep on the left flank and Jeje sneaked in between an out of position Anwar and Syed Rahim Nabi to head it in. Changing over, Lester Fernandes headed in the match-winner in the 56th minute. Mandjou Keita broke down the right flank and centred for an unmarked Lester to head it in. The defence just watched.

Minutes later, Bagan were lucky when Karma Tsewang failed to put it in with only goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee to beat. Again, the defence stayed non-existent.

Bagan’s sole chance in the second half was when Lima’s long-ranger hit the post. Pune FC’s defence’s job was made easier as all balls were addressed to Odafe.

It was no doubt the perfect example of 11 players playing as a unit against a team depending on an individual.