FC Pune City’s waiting game paid off as substitute Eugeneson Lyngdoh struck late against Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday.
Lyngdoh, playing his first game after the AFC Cup final, capitalised on goalkeeper Albino Gomes’s error, who came out of his line to catch Narayan Das’s cross but fumbled it. The ball fell kindly to Lyngdoh, who volleyed it into an empty net in the 89th minute.
MCFC tested Pune custodian Edel Bete in both halves, trying to sneak the ball past him from various angles, but the custodian anticipated each move and countered with blocks and kicks. His reflexes and positioning were top-class. He had a tough time dealing with Diego Forlan free-kicks at the far post, but came out on top.
The home team handed a first-team place to Gomes under the bar, leaving custodian Amrinder Singh on the bench. Sony Norde was replaced by Sunil Chhetri, who is back from the AFC Cup final.
Lyngdoh took his place in the visitors’ dugout as coach Antonio Habas kept faith in Lenny Rodrigues. PCFC gave Eduardo Ferreira back his place in the defence.
Anibal gave MCFC a scare bursting through on the right to the goalline, but no teammate was at hand to finish a pull-back. Sehnaj Singh sneaked in, chasing a pass in the goalmouth but hit his shot wide. Lyngdoh joined the action after the breather, after a subdued first half where the home team focused on ball possession and fast breakaways.
The visitors defended well, but were hesitant of taking shots at goal.
The win lifted FCPC to fourth place after nine games (12 points). MCFC remains in second place after 10 games, one point behind leader Delhi Dynamos FC.