A brace from Turk Tuncay Sanli and a goal from Israil Gurung ensured FC Pune Citybeat Mumbai City FC 3-1 and more importantly, earn the bragging rights of the first Maharashtra derby in the second season of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Balewadi Stadium here on Monday.
While Sanli will run away with the accolades, it was Gurung, who was the most impressive for the Pune side, floating perfect balls to set up both the goals for the Turkish forward.
Mumbai’s starting XI was weakened by the absence of first-choice goalkeeper Subrata Paul and striker Sunil Chhetri who were away on national duty. Albino Gomes, who was named as Paul’s replacement, didn’t have the kind of the game he hoped for.
Mumbai, who were easily the better team on paper, started on a positive note, but went on the back foot once Pune scored the first goal. In all fairness, they had no dearth of chances, but their finishing let them down thoroughly.
Gabriel Fernandes of Mumbai had the first chance of the game in the second minute. Frenchman Frederic Piquionne made an excellent run on the right flank, foxed a couple of defenders and squared it for Fernandes. But he made a mess of a shot, sending it straight into the hands of the ‘keeper.
That attempt, somehow, summed up Mumbai’s game — setting up an attack wonderfully but lacking the final touch.
Pune got the breakthrough when Gurung controlled the ball on the right flank and then floated a pin-point ball to Sanli at the far post. All Sanli had to do was nod the ball home, and he did just that. There was nothing much the ‘keeper could do to save the goal.
Haitian Sony Norde constantly threatened the Pune defence but wasted the best chance he got. In the 33rd minute. Fernandes squared a ball to Norde at the far post, and all the latter had to do was to tap the ball into the net. But he went for power instead of placement and his shot hit the post.
Mumbai made up for that error in the next minute, though. Ashutosh Mehta swung in perfectly from the right and Piquionne made no mistake with a free header just in front of goal to bring Mumbai back into the match.
Mehta, who played for Pune City last year, almost set up the second goal in the 40th minute when he used his pace to collect a through ball on the right, escaped a sliding tackle and passed the ball to Juan Aguilera, who was waiting in the middle. But the Spaniard’s shot lacked power and custodian Steven Simonsen collected it calmly.
In the 56th minute, Pune went ahead for the second time in the game by scoring in almost the identical fashion as the first. Gurung again swung in a perfect ball to Sanli, who outran Mehta to head the ball into the goal.
Sanli’s hopes of getting a hat-trick where dashed as manager David Platt substituted him in the 61st. Pune added to their goal tally in the 68th minute when Gurung’s cross for the right took a deflection of Keegan Pereira’s foot and found the back of the net. Goalkeeper Gomes went to collect the ball, but couldn’t reach. Punching the ball would’ve been the better option.
Mumbai player-manager Nicolas Anelka tried to change things by bringing himself on in the 75th minute, but it was a little too late. The damage had already been done.
Mumbai next play Kerala Blasters away on October 10.
Stopwatch: FC Pune City 3 (Sanli 12, 56, Gurung 68) bt Mumbai City FC 1 (Piquionne 34)