Pune FC was held to a 1-1 draw by home side Eagles FC in their 35th Federation Cup Group-A opener at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi, on Tuesday.
Striker Riga Mustapha (59th minute) gave Pune FC the lead before striker Koko Sakibo (78th) equalised for Eagles.
With a point each, Pune FC and Eagles FC stay second in the group behind Churchill Brothers SC (3 points).
The game began with Pune FC dominating early possession as they went close in the 9th minute. Controlling the ball in the midfield, winger James Meyer created space and let fly from 35-yards only for his effort to sail over the horizontal.
At the other end, Eagles pushed ahead and went close couple minutes later. After the Pune FC defense failed to clear a ball on the edge of the box, ‘keeper Amrinder Singh rushed out to block the through ball and keep the opponents at bay.
Pune FC once again went close moments later. Picking up the ball on the half-line, playmaker Douhou Pierre went on a counter down the right flank before cutting back to Meyer. The Australian controlled the ball pushing it ahead, but his low grounder lacked power and was easily saved by Eagles custodian Jagroop Singh.
Both sides thereafter failed to create any close chance and went into the break tied at goalless.
At the start of the second half, Snoei handed winger Gabriel Fernandes a debut, bringing him in place of Arata Izumi who walked out after the first half with a limp. The move saw Meyer drop back and the new signing take his place on the right wing.
Pune FC began the second half on the offensive and started penetrating the Eagles’ defense. Four minutes after restart, Riga did well to find winger Anthony D’Souza on the left. The Goan cut in passed a defender on the edge of the box before releasing a right-footed that sailed over.
After continuously attacking the opponent’s goal, Pune FC finally took the lead around the hour mark. Douhou brilliantly sent Othallo Tabia clear on the right flank. Doing well to run deep Tabia did well with a perfect chipped pass into the box. Keeper Jagroop, who tried to collect the ball, messed up the collection allowing Riga to capatalise on the gifted opportunity and bury the ball home from close.
Five minutes later at the other end, Amrinder pulled off a great save to block Felix Chidi’s freekick from the edge of the box after James Meyer was pulled up for a foul.
Into the final quarter, Eagles equalised after the Pune FC defense failed to clear the ball. Striker Koko bulldozed past a host of defenders, took a crack which was blocked by Anas and then did well to control the rebound and finish on second attempt.
In the final ten minutes, Pune FC tried to penetrate into the Eagles box but the home side held on for the draw.