Calcutta: Nikhil Kadam’s late strike evoked chances of a Pune FC win, but their exuberance was short-lived when United SC shot back soon after as the I-League Round 12 match, at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune, ended in a 1-1 stalemate on Sunday.
It all began well with Pune FC keeping ball in possession for most parts and taking the lead in the 77 th minute when Kadam chanced on a stray ball. But a fighting United SC equalised within the next seven minutes thanks to a lapse from Pune FC defenders.
The draw meant Pune FC are second with 19 points, while United SC went one rung down to fifth with 17 points.
After a barren but high-voltage first half, Pune FC finally broke the deadlock. Douhou Pierre sent a cross to Mustafa Riga, who set it up for Kadam to tap the ball home. And Kadam made sure he did so.
Pune FC’s joys were shortlived as K. Asif spoiled their party soon after. Amrinder had saved Ranty Martin’s attempt from close range, but Souvik Chakraborty was quick on the rebound and sent a low cross for Asif, who rushed from left to draw level.
In Bangalore, Sunil Chetri scored a brace to lead Bangalore FC (BFC) to a 2-1 win over Lajong FC, at the Bangalore Football Stadium. With this victory, BFC moved atop the league table with 21 points — a two-point lead over Pune FC.
BFC went ahead as early as in the seventh minute when Chetri found some space and put the ball past the Lajong goalkeeper.
After conceding the goal, Lajong started to gain some momentum and rhythm and pressed forward for the equaliser. They had a good chance with a long-ranger from Uilliams Bomfin, which was palmed away by the BFC custodian.
Barring one or two occasions such as this, Lajong weren't creating enough chances and seemed to be running out of ideas. It was BFC that held the upper hand and eventually went 2-0 up in the first session itself.
They were awarded with a penalty in the 35 th minute via a contentious foul. Chetri made no mistake to slot the ball home, taking BFC to a comfortable position.
Boithang Haokip reduced the margin for Lajong with his 81 st-minute strike. But that was just too late to change the complexion of the game.