PUNE: FC Pune City and ATK played out an engaging 2-2 draw at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune on Sunday. The final result was hardly ideal for either team as the dropped points dealt a serious blow to their play-off ambitions.
ATK stay in sixth position in the table with 21 points from 15 matches, while Pune stay seventh with 15 points for 14 matches. For ATK, in particular, the match would go down as a missed opportunity to make up ground on the top four.
With both teams looking for a win, there was plenty of attacking intent on offer in the opening 15 minutes, but the quality in the final third didn’t quite match up to the desire. There were plenty of attempts from range by either side and ATK came close with Edu Garcia, who rattled the crossbar with a powerful shot.
However, it was the home team who would draw first blood, aided by a little bit of luck. Marko Stankovic latched onto Robin Singh’s pass just outside the edge of the ATK box and took his shot on. The Pune midfielder’s effort took an awkward deflection off John Johnson to wrongfoot ATK goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharja and ended up inside the ATK net.
Falling behind immediately spurred the ATK players into action and it took the two-time Hero ISL champions just six minutes to respond. Edu found Jayesh Rane’s run down the left wing with a well-timed pass. The 25-year-old cut in inside the Pune box and promptly curled his shot into the top corner past Pune goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh.
The two quickfire goals breathed life into the match, with both sides creating a flurry of chances as the momentum of the match swayed to and fro.
Both Arindam and Kamaljit were kept busy in the final 20 minutes of the first-half, but the score stayed 1-1 going into the break.
Minutes after the restart, Robin tested the ATK custodian with a driven shot from outside the box, but Arindam was up to the task.
With the match poised on a knife’s edge, ATK were awarded a penalty after the ball hit Diego Carlos’ arm inside the Stallions’ penalty box.
Edu Garcia took over the responsibility and promptly converted the spot-kick, sending Kamaljit the wrong way. With half an hour left in the match, the away team was 2-1 up.
With the impetus on Pune to find a way back, the Stallions hit back with Robin Singh. The former ATK player rose high to meet Marcelo Pereira’s corner kick and expertly directed the ball into the goal. The home team could have scored again just seconds later, but Arindam made a brilliant save to keep out Marcelo’s free kick.
Both sides traded chances in the final 10 minutes and the best chance to grab a winner fell ATK’s way. Johnson could have made amends for his own goal in the closing moments, but Kamaljit was at hand to deny the Englishman’s header. The match ended with the two teams having to settle for a point each