10-man Pune FC stun Dempo 2-1 in Federation Cup opener
Kolkata: An inspired show by 10-man Pune FC helped them beat Dempo SC 2-1 in a group league match of the 33rd Federation Cup which was held at the Salt Lake Stadium.
In a bizarre incident, Pune FC midfielder Lester Fernandez was sent off the field after he was booked for wearing a jersey with two separate numbers on either side of the break. He wore jersey No 22 in the first half and no 25 in the second half which was brought to referee`s notice by Dempo players.
The match had to be stopped for 13 minutes as both teams were engaged in heated argument as referee Khemba Singh marching order to Fernandez.
It was Pune FC which dominated proceedings scoring twice inside the first 20 minutes courtesy foreign recruit Mandjou Keita (8th) and India international Jeje Lalpeklhua (18th).
Dempo pulled one back through Joy Ferrao at the fag end with a minute left for regulation time to end.
Keita provided the lead after receiving a pass from top of the box and he evaded his marker Mahesh Gawli slot home from close range.
After another 10 minutes, Jeje doubled the lead as he headed home unchallenged off Othalo Tadia`s cross from right putting the four-time national league champions under pressure.
Dempo tried their best to come back but Subrata Paul was excellent job under the Pune bar as he thwarted all their attempts of trying to level the proceedings.
Defending champions East Bengal and Mohammadan Sporting are their two next opponents in group C, Pune FC coach Pereira said they have to keep on improving.
"Subrata did a brillaint job for us. But we still have a long way to go. East Bengal are a tough side," Pereira said.
On the jersey bloomer that reduced them to 10 players, Pereira said, "It was unintentional."
Dempo`s interim coach Mauricio Afonso blamed it on the defence for the poor start.
"Two silly mistakes in the first half did us in. The defence did not play up to the mark. But we are not out yet as we still have a chance," he said.