ISL Analysis | Pune outruns Goa with clinical display

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ISL Analysis | Pune outruns Goa with clinical display

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Subhayan Dutta

12/23/2017

FC Pune City continued this brilliant away run in ISL as they handed FC Goa their second defeat of the campaign, courtesy of second-half goals by Emiliano Alfaro and Jonatan Lucca. Goa saw an unusually sloppy display upfront today, which prevented them from going to the top of the league table.

FC Goa see uncharacteristically flawed finishing

FC Goa came into the game on a confident boosting scoring streak of 10 goals in the last two games. Their ability to make the most out of even the slimmest windows of opportunities has been their biggest strength their season. And this game looked easier with Pune’s less constricted defence unlike Chennai, Mumbai or Kerala, which had frustrated Sergio Lobera’s side previously.

The game opened with some end to end play, with both Pune and Goa getting a fair share of their chances. However, Lobera’s side didn’t look like their usual self today as their attempts to loft the ball over Pune’s defence proved to be futile in the first 10 minutes itself. Manuel Lanzarote made the first genuine move in the 36th minute when his whipped grounded cross went begging in vain with neither Ferran Corominas nor Mandar Rao Desai getting a telling touch. The brilliant buildup was followed by a pathetic miss that pretty much summed up their whole game. The game saw Coro hit the bar, Lanzarote make wrong decisions inside Pune’s penalty and everything that could go wrong for them.

Goa, who had 60% possession throughout the game, attempted 12 shots at Pune's goal today, which on other days would be more than enough for them to squeeze in a few. Though against Kerala, Goa needed 20 attempts to score five goals, against Delhi, they scored five goals with just 10 attempts.

Pune’s mysterious away form

FC Pune City have been nothing like their opponents in this campaign so far. They started their season with a defeat at home against Delhi Dynamos and went on to lose four of their three home games. The two matches they have played away from home so far this season, quite surprisingly, have ended in victories. Though the home and away factor that has been playing a determining role in world football over the years, the four-year old ISL has hardly seen it as a massive advantage for any side.

It remains quite mysterious how Ranko Popovic has managed to keep his side motivated on away turfs. One look at Pune’s last game against Bengaluru FC and one would cringe in frustration at their lack of focus and sharpness. With Baljit Shani also absent from this game after he saw a red card in the last game, Pune hardly looked a threat in the pre-game buildup. But, as soon as the away match started, the visitors looked flawless on the counterattack.

Emiliano Alfaro almost drew the first blood in the 19th minute with the commentators referring his bad miss to lack of confidence from last game. The, then considered, lucky break became a regular phenomenon as the game progressed and Alfaro tested Goa again after two minutes. Goa’s defence was being outsmarted by Adil Khan and Diego Carlos at will as Kattimani was called on to save his side numerous times in the first-half. Goa’s missed chances only increased Pune’s confidence and Alfaro broke the deadlock with a confident finish in the 72nd minute. Despite seeing less of the ball, Pune finished the game with three more attempts (15) on goal than their opponents.

The Showstopper

There can only be one showstopper today, Vishal Kaith. Goa could have drawn two goals back at least in the second-half but for Pune’s custodian who stood like a rock in the entire game and in the end was the biggest differentiator between the two sides. He started the game in a terrible manner, though, when his blunder in the 18th minute gave Corominas an easy chance score but the Spaniard mistimed his chip from a slightly tight angle.

However, the 21-year-old didn’t put a foot wrong in the entire game after that. He managed to keep off Lanzarote in the 37th minute from what looked like a genuine scoring chance by Goa’s standards. The second-half was bound to see him under more pressure and the youngster stood up to it every single time.

The game-changing moment came in the 70th minute when he made an astonishing triple save to keep his side in the game. After parrying the cross Ferran Corominas into the path of Brandon Fernandes, he showed lightning reactions to block his effort, which unfortunately went towards Manuel Arana then, and  Kaith somehow managed to keep Arana’s shot away too. The icing on the cake - Alfaro's goal two minutes later.

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