FC Pune City routed Jamshedpur FC 4-1 in an Indian Super League clash at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on Saturday.
Robin Singh (17’) and Marcelinho (45+2’) helped Pune storm to a 2-0 lead at half-time before a second goal for Robin (65’) and a fine strike from Ashique Kuruniyan (70’) made it 4-0 for the Stallions. Carlos Calvo scored a consolation goal (76’) from the penalty spot for Jamshedpur, who slumped to their first defeat of the season at home.
The result dents Jamshedpur’s chance of qualifying for the play-offs while Pune City’s slim chances of going through remain alive. Cesar Ferrando’s side are now four points behind fourth-placed Mumbai City with two games remaining. Pune, on the other hand, are nine points behind Mumbai with three matches in hand.
Meanwhile, Jamshedpur’s defeat means league leaders Bengaluru FC becomes the first team to qualify for the play-offs.
The home side started the game with urgency and should have scored at least twice within the opening 15 minutes but for some wasteful finishing. Calvo moved forward from the left and picked out Farukh Choudhary at the far post. However, Farukh blazed his volley over from point-blank range.
Calvo, then, forced Pune goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh into a save before Mario Arques went close twice. First, his shot from a corner was blocked on the line by Marko Stankovic. Two minutes later, a long ranger from Arques was denied by the crossbar.
The spurned chances came back to bite Jamshedpur in the 17th minute when Pune broke forward before Diego Carlos lashed a shot straight at Jamshedpur custodian Subrata Paul who could only parry it. Iain Hume latched on to it but his shot hit the post before falling for Robin who swept it home.
A rattled Jamshedpur mounted a fightback but did leave space behind that Pune looked to exploit. The urgency mounted from Cesar Ferrando’s men as the half wore on, but they were dealt a body blow right at the stroke of half-time from another quick Pune counter after a threatening Jamshedpur move was broken down.
Hume was the architect, threading a brilliant through-ball for Marcelinho in behind the defence. Paul came out to close down the Brazilian but could not clear the ball. It fell again to Marcelinho, who had the presence of mind to swivel and lift a finish into the open goal.
Jamshedpur, in a bid to find their way back into the game, threw on Michael Soosairaj but left space at the back. Pune duly capitalised and scored twice after the hour mark.
In the 65th minute, Ashique did extremely well to run down the left and keep the ball alive on the touchline. He found Robin inside the box who beat Paul at the near post with a thumping strike. Five minutes later, it was Ashique’s turn to score with a powerful side-footed finish after good work by Marcelinho as Jamshedpur looked crestfallen.
Pune gifted Jamshedpur a goal in the 76th minute when Martin Diaz handled the ball inside the box and Calvo converted the penalty. However, despite exerting pressure on the visitors, Jamshedpur were unable to find more goals and now have been left with a mountain to climb in the race for the play-offs.