Kolkata: Flying high after their recent Durand Cup triumph, Mohammedan Sporting got a reality check when a new-look Pune FC rallied to beat them 3-1 in their I-League opener here on Saturday.
Spain-born Raul Fabiani (16th and 76th minute) stole the show with a brace and set up another for James Meyer (52nd) to help Pune FC go past Mohammedan Sporting, who were leading with an 11th minute Joshimar d`Silva Martins` strike.
Just after completing his double, Fabiani, who received a yellow card for a hand ball in the 28th minute, celebrated by taking off his jersey but was sent off in the 77th minute for a second booking.
Despite being reduced to 10 men, Pune FC, under new coach Mike Snoei, thwarted Mohammedan Sporting`s attempts for a comeback for a fine start to their campaign.
Having been promoted to the top tier after four years, Mohammedan Sporting, egged on by 15,000-odd crowd, started aggressively and made inroads to the Pune FC half.
In the third minute, Ajay Singh missed a chance in front of the open net. They kept attacking which resulted in the first goal of the I-League seventh season when Joshimar struck after being set up nicely by Gagandeep Singh.
Joshimar first smartly headed the ball out of the path of a surging Pune FC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, and then calmly slotted the ball into the empty net.
Mohammedan Sporting got a spectacular chance three minutes later when Joshmiar backheeled the ball into Ajay Singh`s way but only to falter in the battle near the goalmouth.
In hindsight, Mohammedan Sporting will lament the miss as moments later Pune FC equalised with Fabiani scoring on debut.
The lanky Fabiani, a former Villareal B striker and current Equatorial Guinea international, showed fine instincts as he struck from a rebound after Nikhil Kadam`s initial drive ricocheted off the post.
In absence of Brazilian defender Luciano Sabrosa (arm injury), Mohammedan Sporting looked fragile as Fabiani showed great reflexes in bringing in the equaliser.
Fabiani was at it again as the lanky forward held off three defenders on the left before squaring it perfectly for Meyer who struck without any fuss to help Pune FC snatch the lead.
With nothing going in the home team`s favour, the visitors struck again when Fabiani utilised a loose pass to fire in his double.
It was a perfect start for the last year`s runners up as all their three new signing foreigners -- striker Fabiani, winger Meyer and defender Calum Angus -- did well giving coach Snoei a win in his first appearance in the I-Leaue.
He (Major Dhyan Chand) is inspiration personified. He became synonymous with hockey. He became the parameter of hockey by which other player's calibre is measured.
Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal