FC Pune City scrambled to a 2-1 victory in front of home fans for the first time this season, thanks to goals from Eduardo Ferreira and Anibal Rodriguez against the in-form Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) at the Balewadi Stadium here on Sunday. Iain Hume converted a penalty for the visitors.
Debjit Majumder, guarding the visitors’ goal, could only watch through a crowd of bodies as Eduardo scored FCPC’s first goal in the 41st minute with a fierce header, twisting in the air to nod home a flag-kick.
Later, the ATK custodian got his fingers to a penalty kick by Rodriguez, but his block was not enough to stop the ball from bobbing in.
Rival goalkeeper Edel Bete faced a moment of truth in the 69th minute when ATK was awarded a penalty for a foul by captain Mohamed Sissoko on Helder Postiga. Bete blocked Hume’s shot with an outstretched dive to his right but the rebound was jabbed home high by the striker.
Two penalty-kick awards and numerous yellow cards marked an intense match between two combative sides. The danger of injury in a body-contact sport came into play when Ferreira was carried off following a concussion. Medical tests were on to determine internal damage. Antonio Habas was forced to introduce Jesus Tato in place of the injured Brazilian.
Both goalkeepers were kept on their toes. Bete stretched out to get within range of a Postiga snap attempt from far out, but the ball arched into the side netting. Debjit remained alert when Sissoko turned and shot goalwards but the ball was wide off target.
Needing a win to keep head above water, the home team pressed numbers into the attack, forcing ATK to defend deeper around the box.
Getting a knock
Off a move down the left, Luca trapped and swivelled to his right for space to shoot but was off target. The fans were treated to off-the-ball excitement when Eduardo hurt his cheek when challenging an aerial ball. The signal for ambulance was given but by the time the vehicle reached the sidelines, the Brazilian had recovered.
Two minutes after his goal, Eduardo collapsed near the centerline, feeling the after-effects of the injury, which at that time had been treated with a bandage on the right cheek.
Pune increased the lead in the 55th minute after a dramatic moment. Anibal moved ahead to head a floater from the right flank and the ball bounced off him onto ATK defender Pritam Kotal’s hand.
The referee upheld an appeal for deliberate handball, showed the player a yellow and pointed to the spot. Majumder read Anibal’s shot correctly and raised the palms for a reflex block. The ball changed direction after impact and lodged into the other corner.
Pune has now moved to sixth place, ahead of Kerala Blasters on goal difference, while ATK remains in third place.