Marcelinho scored his first goal in a month’s time as FC Pune City registered only their second win in this season of Indian Super League after beating Kerala Blasters 1-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday.
The victory carried Pune to a point below Kerala, who now are winless in six home games this season, three of which have ended in defeats. Pune climbed to eighth with the same number of points from 11 matches. The Blasters are a rung above from equal number of games.
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Kerala are also on a winless streak of 10 matches, the longest in their history, having beaten ATK 2-0 on the opening day of the league back in September. Since then David James’ boys have drawn six and lost four.
Pune, who themselves have struggled this season and had won just one match prior to this victory, started well. Marcelinho scored in the 20th minute but that could have been his second had the Brazilian striker found the target as early as the seventh minute when he snatched the ball from Kerala centre-back Anas Edathodika and had only goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh to beat. Marcelinho though fired straight at Singh as the visitors’ first opportunity of the evening went out a waste.
But the former Delhi forward made amends 13 minutes later when he – for the second time in 20 minutes – found himself clear on goal from Ashique Kuruniyan’s defence-splitting ball. Marcelinho’s shot towards goal took a wicked deflection off Edathodika before hitting the net having already wrong-footed Singh at goal.
Kerala, on the other, failed to make many inroads into the opposition’s defensive third and their only opportunity came from a counter-attack when Courage Pekuson lobbed the ball into an empty penalty box but striker Slavisa Stojanovic failed to make any contact.
The home side looked better as play resumed and Stojanovic had a shot saved immediately after the break forcing Pune coach Pradhyum Reddy into replacing Marcelinho to add another defender.
But despite repeated attacks, the Blasters failed to find the net with Pune goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh pulling out a couple of good saves to deny Sandesh Jhingan from a later header while substitute CK Vineeth hit the post from a promising situation.