ISL 2017: Pune Soldier On

Match Report Indian Super League

It was a familiar tale for Avram Grant’s NorthEast United as they fell to a late Marcelinho goal as Pune bounced back perfectly from their last-gasp defeat last time out. NorthEast did everything but score and their failure to get a striker in the transfer window means they’ll definitely be missing out on the top four this time around, bar a miracle. Some would argue it’s a shame, but if you don’t take your chances, you’ve only got yourself to blame; safe to say they won’t make the same mistake in the summer.

How Many Chances Do You Want?

Pune moved five points clear of fifth with the win as they made it nine points out of twelve, on the contrary, NorthEast have now gone three games without a win. NorthEast started the brighter of the pair as Danilo hit wide and Marcinho really should have done better with his header, however, instead of heading it either side of Vishal Kaith in the Pune goal, he headed it straight at the Indian keeper and that was the end of another attack.

It was then Pune’s turn to miss a golden opportunity to take the lead as the normally ever-reliable Alfaro, who was facing his former club, struck over after smartly intercepting a week header from one of NorthEast’s defenders. It was one of them where when you look back over it you think that he could have taken an extra touch of the ball etc, but when you’re in the moment, I guess that doesn’t really cross your mind. Would I have smashed it into the top corner? Probably. I’m a poacher though, so that’s understandable. Marcinho had another chance down the other end not too long after but that went over the bar and was the last decent chance before halftime. 0-0.

Some of the stand out first half stats for you include 6-3 when it comes to total shots which shows that the Highlanders had more attempts on goal, however, Pune had an 88% passing rate as opposed to NorthEast’s 82% which shows you that NorthEast are having more chances and perhaps Pune were being slightly too conservative with the ball. Let’s see what happens in the second half; at least we know there’s a goal in this half considering it finishes 1-0.

NorthEast Stand Firm

Pune started by having the biggest chance of the half as Diego was crudely brought down on the edge of the area after some tricky footwork. The talismanic Marcelinho shaped up to take the set piece, however, it wasn’t meant to be as Rehenesh kept it out, just. The corner came to no avail as NorthEast cleared the danger and created some more chances of their own but chances were wasted as they couldn’t take that oh, so important lead.

NorthEast’s skipper, Jose Goncalves, had the best chance in the second half for the home side as he rose highest from a corner, but much like Marcinho’s chance in the first half, his header went straight at the keeper. Literally, a couple of yards either side of Kaith and it’s a goal and NorthEast can do what they do best and defend. Some things don’t always work out the way you want them though, do they?

NorthEast Don’t Stand Firm

With only four minutes left on the clock, Stankovic put an exquisitely weighted ball through to Marcelinho who timed his run to perfection. Marcelino still had lots to do. He had defenders on his back, fought them off, he had the keeper to beat. Beat him. Just about. Rehenesh got a hand on Marcelinho’s shot but it was not enough to prevent the ball from going in and over the line as Pune got the three points. Did they deserve it? It’s hard to say. Is it surprising that they won? Not at all.

Marcelinho’s goal took him level with Alfaro on seven for the season so they can have their own ‘friendly’ competition within the four walls off Pune City; one thing that must be noted, though, is that they look a long, long way behind Bengaluru who seem to be the team to beat at the moment. Although, when you consider that it’s settled through the playoff system, it could well be anyone’s game.

Until the next time.

About the Author

Jake Flock
Football and writing are my two biggest passions, so seems right to combine the pair, don't you think?