A double from debutant Raul Fabiani inspired Pune FC to a come from behind 3-1 victory over Mohammedan Sporting in the opening round of the 2013-14 Airtel I-League at the Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday.
It was an eventful debut for Pune’s Spanish-born Equatorial Guinea international striker Fabiani, who also set up his team’s other goal and was sent off for two yellows. Another debutant, Australian James Meyer scored Pune’s other goal while Josimar netted Mohammedan Sporting’s only strike.
Mohammedan Sporting’s first I-League game in four years looked to be going according to plan as Brazilian Josimar put them in front early on after getting on the end of a through ball from Gagandeep Singh.
But the home side’s opener came slightly against the run of play as last season’s runners-up Pune FC had started the game brightly. The visitors equalised just five minutes after going behind as Fabiani slotted past Mohammedan Sporting goalkeeper Somnath Khara after Nikhil Kadam had hit the woodwork.
The first half was quite an open contest with both sides creating a number of chances but finishing was far from clinical. While Tolgay Ozbey and Josimar both squandered opportunities for the Kolkata side, India International fullback Gurjinder Kumar missed a great chance for Pune after a great backheel pass from Fabiani.
Mohammedan Sporting suffered a blow before the halftime break as influential Nigerian midfielder Penn Orji came off with an injury and they also failed to score from a goalmouth scramble.
Those missed opportunities came back to haunt the Kolkata giants as Pune FC took the lead for the first time in the game early in the second half. Meyer finished from close range after some fine work by Fabiani.
Mohammedan Sporting took time to respond but did have a couple of glorious chances to equalise with Israil Gurung putting his effort over the bar and Josimar wasting a one-on-one opportunity after a weak back pass by Gurjinder.
Pune FC sealed the points when Fabiani grabbed the third to complete his brace after winning possession close to the Mohammedan Sporting box. The two-goal hero though was sent off as he was shown a second yellow for slightly taking off his jersey while celebrating.
Mohammedan Sporting won’t be in action next week as their game against East Bengal has been postponed due to the latter’s AFC Cup commitments while Pune FC have a trip to Shillong where they will face Lajong.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)