A scrappy Pune FC went down 0-2 to Salgaocar SC in a match that the home team should have won to improve their chances of challenging the league leaders, but their destiny had something else in store on Saturday in the Round 19 match of the I-League football championship.
Given the way Pune FC had beaten Salgaocar in their away match, the home side started as favourites but soon after the match started Pune FC had no place to hide their blushes at the Balewadi Stadium here on Saturday.
This was Pune FC’s third loss in four games as Francis Fernandes scored twice in the first half to leave the home team seeking answers to how come their defence became so porous. Towards the end, a frustrated Pune FC tried all the tricks but instead ended up being reduced to 10-men after Gurjinder Kumar was shown red card for a blatant stamp on Josimar Martins with three minutes remaining for the regulation time to end.
The win propelled Salgaocar to No 10 position and should given the Goan side some cushion from falling close to the drop zone. Pune FC, meanwhile fell down to No 5 position as Prayag United, which won in the afternoon moved up on better goal difference though both teams were on 30 points apiece.
Pune FC coach Derrick Pereira benched non-performing striker James Moga, but his replacement Jeje Lalpekhlua was no better. Even before the first half was over, Moga was sent in and Jeje called out, in a clear sign of desperation from Pereira.
The away side were on the offensive from the off, and stunned the stadium into silence, as early as the second minute, when Francis Fernandes slammed home a deep Randeep Singh cross at the far post, to give his side the lead.
Luciano Sobrosa almost doubled the advantage, when he connected with a ball into the box. However a Pune FC defender deflected the shot wide.
With the hosts unable to grab the initiative, the match tempo started petering out and the most notable moment of the half came in the 87th minute, when Gurjinder Kumar was sent-off for stamping at Josimar, which sparked an ugly brawl between the two sides.