Pune come out on top in seven-goal thriller

Anibal Zurdo's brace inspired FC Pune City to a 4-3 win over league leaders Delhi Dynamos in a thrilling contest that also saw Kean Lewis score ISL's 400th goal at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Friday.

Pune moved within two points of league leaders Delhi following their fourth win of the season in their last home game. It was Delhi's first defeat in six matches, and only their second of the season.

Mohamed Sissoko missed a first half penalty before Delhi took the lead toward end of the first half through Kean Lewis. Pune came back strongly in the second half, scoring three goals in the space of eight minutes to take the lead. Eduardo's own goal helped Delhi pull one back and keep the contest alive till the end. Lenny Rodriques' 93rd minute goal restored Pune's two-goal cushion, and even though Malsawmzuala scored Delhi's third in the 94th minute, the hosts did just enough to hold on to three points.

The game produced 38 shots on goal, 18 of them on target as both sides played open, end-to-end football.

Both sides missed clear opportunities to score in the opening period, both Eduardo and Marcelo failing to capitalize on one-on-one situations early on. Pune had the best chance of the half in the 25th minute when Anibal was brought down by Kim Kima inside the Delhi box. Marquee player Mohammed Sissoko stepped up, but Soram Porei guessed correctly and dove to his left to save the penalty. Goalkeepers Edel Bete and Soram Porei each made some superb saves, but it was mostly poor finishing from either side that delayed the first goal.

Delhi took the lead in the 43rd minute when Kean Lewis scored the 400th goal of the ISL, which was also his fourth of the season. Marcelo started the move with a run from the right, cutting inside and finding Memo, whose exquisite back-heel found Kean, who slotted it into an empty net.

Pune started the second half brightly and Ndoye had was denied by Poirei soon after the restart.

Anibal equalized in the 55th minute, towering over Anas Edathodika and David Addy to head home Jonathan Lucca's free-kick. It was another Lucca free-kick that led to Pune's second goal in the 62nd minute. His cross from the right ricosheted off two Delhi defenders to meet Sissoko, who made up for his penalty miss to blast through from close range and put Pune ahead.

A minute later, Anibal doubled his tally to make it 3-1. After defender Ruben miscontrolled a pass from his goalkeeper, Anibal pounced onto the loose ball and took a couple of touches before superbly placing it past a diving Poirei.

Despite going two goals down, Delhi kept the pressure up, and Marcelo, Lewis and Malouda all came agonizingly close to pulling one back for the visitors. Their efforts finally paid off in the 79th minute, when Addy's powerful cross from the left took a touch from defender Eduardo, who had Malouda lurking behind him, before finding a way into the net as it became 3-2.

 

Pune were further tested in the last 10 minutes, but also created chances of their own as Delhi pressed forward. Poirei denied Lucca and Lenny with outstanding saves to keep Delhi alive.

The hosts settled the nerves when substitute Lenny scored Pune's fourth, placing Lucca's wonderful though ball into the bottom right corner in the 93rd minute of the game.

With six minutes added on, Delhi had time to produce another twist. Substitute Malsawmzuala scored with just two minutes to go to reduce the deficit back to one goal. Malouda's initial shot was saved well by Bete, but the rebound fell to Malsawmzuala, who tucked it away with ease.

Delhi had one last shot at an equalizer with seconds to go, but Pellisari's 96th minute free-kick went well over the bar.

The result has thrown the playoff race wide open, as only six points now separate the top and bottom team in the league.