Bengaluru: Pune FC kept their play-offs hopes alive with a 1-1 draw against debutants Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League on Friday. Pune Coach Ranko Popovic would be happy with the result as his team managed to remain second on the points table with 29 points, having scored 28 goals in 16 matches.
Bengaluru, who have already qualified for the play-offs, are still table-toppers with 34 points after finding the net on 31 occasions in 16 matches. Pune got the first goal of the match in 22nd minute and Bengaluru in 76th minute.The visitors scored their first goal through Sarthak Goluli, giving coach Popovic something thing to smile about.
It was a team goal as Marcelino Leite Pereira turned his marker down and laid it off for Emiliano Alfaro Toscano, who squared it off for Sarthak. Bengaluru got the equaliser in 76th minute through Miku after he tapped a cross from Semboi off a faulty clearance from Baljit Sahni. The hosts nearly had their first goal in 69th minute when the referee unfortunately disallowed a definite penalty.
Captain Sunil Chhetri ran towards the byline from Dimas Morgado Delgado's pass and chipped a cross into the center. Baljit Sahni clearly raised his hand to deflect the ball into the side-netting. In 74th minute, Chhetri assisted a header onto the path of Miku at the far post from a corner. Miku tried to poke the ball into the net from a tight angle, but goalkeeper Vishal Kaith came across in time to parry it away.
In the 80th minute, Toni Dovale's free-kick took a deflection off Jonathan Lucca's head and changed direction to trouble Kaith who got his hand to the ball to pull off a stunning save. Pune, who were disappointed with Alfaro Roscano missing the next game after being yellow carded, had another go at Bengaluru goal in 56th minute, Marcelinho got into the box and crossed low for Diego Carlos De Oliveira who poked the ball wide.
Pune also had a chance in 10th minute when Marcelino, who was yellow carded in the 33rd minute, struck a free-kick that beat both goalkeeper and the post.
Bengaluru had their chances coming their way twice in first 35 minutes of the game, but could not convert much to the disappointment of team brand ambassador Rahul Dravid. Miku had a close chance in the 2nd minute as he crossed low into the center where Baljit Sahni slid to clear the ball without scoring an own goal. In the 32nd minute, Toni lashed the ball inside the box, but it deflected and paced past goalkeeper Vishal Kaith for a corner. In 59th minute, Dimas Morgado Delgado found Miku's run in the box brilliantly but the Venezuelan striker dragged his shot across the face of the goal.