Sports

ISL: Pune beat Kerala 1-0

Kochi, Dec 7 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 12/7/2018 11:41:07 AM IST

Kerala Blasters were handed their third defeat on home soil in the 2018-19 ISL as FC Pune City ran out 1-0 winners at the JL Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday.

Marcelinho’s 20th-minute goal proved to be the difference between the teams as the Yellows extended their winless run to ten games.

The injured Keziron Kizito was replaced by Courage Pekuson but the visitors had four changes from their 2-1 loss to Bengaluru FC. 

Nim Dorjee Tamang and Ashique Kuruniyan were deployed as the wing-backs with a Golui, Matt Mills and Panwar shielding Kamaljit Singh in goal. Pradhyum Reddy’s news three-at-the-back system paid dividends from the very off.

Marcelinho snatched the ball from an unsuspecting Anas Edathodika inside the box. In what should have been the opener in the seventh minute itself, the Brazilian chose to slam the ball right towards young ‘keeper Dheeraj Singh from the one-on-one situation.

Kerala Blasters’ only bright chance in the entire first half came from the counter-attack that ensued. Pekuson did exceedingly well to lob to ball into empty space inside the box. However, Slavisa Stojanovic failed to make any contact whatsoever in front of an empty net.

Marcelinho did make amends as he broke the deadlock. Kuruniyan at his enigmatic best, skippered through two men on the left and released the ball into the box, splitting the Blasters’ defence. Marcelinho hit the ball towards the goal on the angle as it took a deflection off of Edathodika’s shin to spin over Dheeraj’s reach.

The home side were second best in attempts to create any sort of spark in the final third as the Pune backline had it easy going into the second half.

Stojanovic had a shot saved by Kamaljit after the change of ends.

Zakeer Mundampara curled a couple of balls in from the corner kick, in which one Sahal Abdul Samad came close to heading it inside the box. While the Pune City defence remained solid, the hosts had numerous half chances.

Stojanovic remained clueless despite the home side’s frantic attempts to pull a goal back. Skipper Sandesh Jhingan had the most glaring opportunity in stoppage time as he headed the ball on target but Kamalji pulled off a brilliant save.

Kerala Blasters remained on 7th with 11 points while Pune City are on 8th with 5 points.

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