Pune: Pune FC will rue this result for a long time. After taking a 2-0 lead in the 76th minute, the home side allowed Mohun Bagan to walk into the game and draw the Round IX match 2-2 in an I-League encounter at the Balewadi Stadium on Sunday.
The result took Pune FC to 11 points from 8 matches while Bagan moved to 12 matches from 9 matches.
Chika Wali and Izumi Arata had put Pune FC on the high pedestal and they remained in control till the 76th minute before Bagan’s marquee player Okolie Odafe struck twice in a space of seven minutes to hand the struggling Calcutta team a crucial one point.
Pune FC went ahead in the 30th minute through Chika who tapped in after Douhou Pierre’s shot hit the wall. The second goal was scored by Arata. Douhou found James Moga on the right who played it to Arata. Izumi made no mistake in making it 2-0.
But Pune lost the plot when Odafa came into his own. In the 77th, Odafe surged into the box from the left. He unleashed a shot which deflected off Wali into the Pune FC net.
That was the opening Bagan were looking for. Odafe made it 2-2 in the 84th minute.
His quick turn caught the Pune defence on the wrong foot and Odafe slotted home. Pune FC protested for a handball against Odafe but the referee stood his ground.
Earlier, Pune FC dominated the proceedings in the early part of the first half. In the very second minute, Karma Tsewang sent a long ball to Moga but the latter fumbled.
Subhas Singh had a chance but his strike went wide in the ninth minute. Khanthang Paite had released the ball for Subhas who caught the Bagan defence napping. He had the time to take a touch or two but hurried into his shot.
Subhas had yet another chance when the ball fell at his feet from a throw-in. He did well to step over and fox Nirmal Chetri, but his left-footed shot went awry.
In Gangtok, third-placed Churchill Brothers played a goalless draw against United Sikkim Football Club in Paljor Stadium.
It was USFC goalkeeper Monotosh Ghosh who Churchill full points. Ghosh, adjudged the Man of the Match, made several outstanding saves during the match.
Churchill now have 19 points from nine matches while USFC are on seven points from nine matches.