FC Pune City managed to escape the bottom of the Indian Super League (ISL) with a 2-1 win over Atletico de Kolkata on Sunday, secured thanks to goals from Eduardo Ferreira (41') and Anibal Zurdo (56'). Iain Hume scored a rebound off his missed penalty in the 69th minute, but the visitors were unable to conjure anything thereafter as they remain in third place.
The chilly November air was placated by the homely feeling within the Balewadi Sports Complex as Antonio Habas faced off against his former employers. They made just a solitary change from the side that lost to FC Goa, with Jesus Tato being rested. This was their penultimate round of home ties. The team lined up in a 4-4-2 formation.
Atletico de Kolkata headed into this tie after a nine-day rest. Coach Jose Molina, another Spaniard, made three changes to the side that overcame NorthEast United away, as Iain Hume and Helder Postiga were ushered back into offence. Robert Lathlamuana, East Bengal's skipper, was deputising at left-back. Out went Javi Lara, Juan Beloncoso and Prabir Das.
It was Postiga who nearly had a section of the stadium in early raptures. His probing drive from some thirty yards to the left of Edel Bete's goal hit the side netting with some power.
Gouramangi Singh was on the receiving end of the referee's ire when he slid through Hume, in what was a dangerous and reckless tackle. Thankfully for Habas, the official only produced a yellow card.
Narayan Das produced a splendid in swinging corner for the home side in the 18th minute, that met the head of Dramane Traore in the middle. The striker's header was on target and with power but it was blocked on the line by Stephen Pearson.
In the 27th minute, Jonatan Lucca curled an effort after synchronous build-up play with his Mexican teammate, but the effort just whisked past Majumder's left hand post.
The game took a turn as the theatrical Eduardo Ferreira went in for a header with Lalrindika Ralte. Contact of heads saw the former come off the worst. Medical personnel were rushed onto the pitch, as the officials screamed for the ambulance. Eduardo seemed to have lost momentary consciousness.
However, after a brief patch-up, the defender was back up and out on the pitch. The entirety of the Pune bench that was on the touch line as he received treatment breathed a sigh of relief. However, barely had they taken their seats that Eduardo had given them more to shout about.
The Brazilian leapt highest from a corner by Lucca to head past Debjit. It capped the most extra-ordinary of minutes in this tournaments history, with emotions swinging form palpitations and fear to pure joy. The 6'2" Brazilian himself wheeled emotionally to embrace his coach on the touchline.
Barely had the Rojiblancos restarted play that Eduardo went down in the middle again. This time, the Hrithik Roshan co-owned team immediately substituted him, and he was wheeled away in an ambulance that was at the ready. Jesus Tato came on in place of the injured Eduardo as Pune city reverted to a 3-5-2.
The half petered out with Molina's team pushing themselves for an equalizer that didn't come, as Pune City kept the door firmly shut.
Atletico de Kolkata sought to get back into the tie and hauled on youngster Bidyananda Singh at the restart. However, the proceedings took a turn for the worse for the away side.
A superb cross into the box from a counter saw Zurdo presented with an easy header. The forward had his headed effort on target but it was blocked by Pritam Kotal. However, the referee spotted a handball by the latter and awarded a penalty to Pune City.
A major fisticuffs broke out between Sameehg Doutie, Kotal and Narayan Das, with all three heading into the referee's book. Zurdo took the resulting penalty, and even though Majumder got a glove onto it, the force of the kick took it into the bottom right corner.
A moment of madness resulted in the Kolkata half when an awry backpass by Soreno was shabbily cleared by Majumder. Lenny Rodrigues though, seeking to plomp the ball into goal from 40 yards out, miscued his effort badly, with an empty goal at his mercy.
The winged beasts from Bengal's capital finally had a life-line when Postiga was stated to have been fouled by Mohammed Sissoko in the box. Hume took the resulting penalty, and though saved by Edel Bete to his right, the Canadian swept in the rebound. With the deficit reduced, the Kolkata side attacked with renewed vigour.
However, minor skirmishes between opposition players kept breaking out in what was clearly a bad tempered tie. A total of nine yellow cards were brandished.
Zurdo thwacked n a freekick that was more catching practice for Majumder. The Mexican was soon replaced and 9035 people applauded him off. His replacement Momar Ndoye handed the opposition a major chance when he conceded a freekick on the edge of the box, to the left of the Pune City box. Lara's delivery was poor and the ball was cleared by Lucca for a corner.
The resulting corner saw Bete make a hash of the collection and gift the ball to a Kolkata attacker on the edge of the box. The opponent however, skied it high and over.
Pune kept up the heat on the counters as the match closed down to a comfortable win for the home side. With that win, the Maratha Stallions pushed FC Goa back to the bottom of the table, as they levelled with the Kerala Blasters on the table.
Atletico de Kolkata, will need to be content with losing this tie, as they never recovered the first half goal. They sit in third with a game in hand over table toppers Mumbai City. A games of axes finished with the home side recording their first win on home soil and ending a five game winless streak.