Bartholomew Ogbeche continued his goal-scoring streak as NorthEast United climbed to second in the table with a 2-0 victory over Pune City at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports complex on Tuesday.
Ogbeche scored in the 23rd while an injury-time goal Juan Mascia lifted NorthEast above FC Goa in the points table. They are on 17 points from eight matches, Goa plays ATK tomorrow. On the other Pune with their sixth defeat in nine matches are at the eighth position with five points.
The former PSG man was at the top right from the start and came close to scoring in the 21st minute but his volley from a lofted ball was somehow kept out by Pune City goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh.
A minute before that Pune tested NorthEast United’s custodian Pawan Kumar after the visitors had failed to clear a corner. Marcelinho’s delivery was only half-cleared by Rowlin Borges and the ball kindly for Ashique Kuruniyan just outside the box. But the youngster’s shot was kept out of the goal by Kumar.
NorthEast then took the lead through Ogbeche when Federico Gallego’s corner fell right in front of him and the Nigerian striker had no second thought before firing the ball in for his eighth goal of the season.
Pune though would feel aggrieved by the referee’s shock decision at the stroke of half-time when Gurwinder Singh had blatantly handled the handled inside his own box but the Singaporean referee Mohammad Taqi refuted all claims.
ISL’s all-time top-scorer Iain Hume made his first start in over two months but was replaced at half-time with another injury as Pune struggled to finish off chances up front.
Their best opportunity in the second half was a low powerful shot from Robin Singh that did little to trouble Kumar at goal.
Singh also had a goalline clearance just moments before the final whistle with Mato Grgic helping his side to maintain a clean sheet.
But that goal would have done nothing more damage because in the first minute of injury time Mascia had put the visitors 2-0 ahead from the spot after Sahil Panwar had pulled him down.