ISL 2017 | Perfectionist Pune pile misery on error-prone NorthEast

ISL 2017 | Perfectionist Pune pile misery on error-prone NorthEast

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FC Pune City were finally able to break their home form voodoo, and quite marvelously, as they thrashed a struggling NorthEast United side 5-0 at the Balewadi Stadium. The Highlanders are now stranded at the bottom of the table with four points after seven games as Pune (15) moved up to second.

Poor execution brings sword upon NorthEast United, again

The Highlanders were coming into the game with just one win from their last six games and a close observation of their game play would reflect that they were hardly being dominated in any of them. The story wasn’t any different this time. Their offensive play has been one of the best in the league, but their poor finishing up front has proved to be utterly frustrating time and again. Despite the scoreline looking overtly one-sided today, it was NorthEast who had more chances with 14 attempts on goal (5 more than Pune) and 19 crosses in the whole game. This has been their story this season so far - excellent buildup and poor finishing. Whether it was Marcinho’s chance in the 23rd minute and the 41st minute or Seiminlen Doungel’s in the 55th minute, players of their caliber have just failed to click at the right moment.

Poor execution could be said about their defence as well. Despite having two of the best passing defenders in the league in Jose Goncalves and Sambinha, NorthEast’s defence has always found a way to leak goals. Four of the five goals that the Highlanders conceded today, were completely preventable with goalie TP Rehnesh messing on up big time on more than one occasion while their defence’s man marking remained as non existent as possible.

FC Pune City gets their tactics spot on

Coming into the game with a convincing win over FC Goa would definitely be a huge confidence boost for any side in the league. But, what was even more interesting was how the Pune team have transformed themselves since the 3-2 hammering by Delhi. Despite finding it easy against physically dominant sides like Atletico de Kolkata and Mumbai City FC, it was the free-flowing counter attacking sides that posed the biggest threat to Ranko Popovic’s side. 

However, Popovic might just have found the key to their team’s erratic run with their last win. The manager had revealed after the 2-0 last week that he had tried to focus more on keeping the ball rather than getting his tactics right. He looked like a man who had enormous confidence on his attack who would definitely score if they got enough chances. NorthEast didn’t play any different than Goa in terms of style and when Pune were successful in keeping them on the chase, the rest of the game was pretty easy.

Marcos Tebar played a significant role this game too, from the midfield, as Adil Khan did the dirty work whenever NorthEast had the ball. Pune committed 13 fouls today and slowed the game whenever NorthEast looked dangerous. Pereira’s ability to dig deep and then distribute the ball up more or less made the difference today although NorthEast’s errors helped him enormously. Commanding 60% of the possession with 75% passing accuracy throughout the entire second-half further frustrated the visitors and a flurry of late goals was just a matter of time. 

The Showstopper

Without a doubt, Marcelo Pereira was today’s hero with his silky feet and impeccable shot executions. Though he also had fortune favoring him today, the Brazilian wore his luck like an armour with some astonishing movements and vision. While he had a hint of it with the very first goal, where he managed to center his low driving cross that found its way to Ashique Kuruniyan through a deflection, it was clearly evident during the third goal when Rehnesh slipped an easy shot through his legs into the goal.

However, these two instances don’t take away anything from Pereira’s genius today whose first touches were deft. While his second goal from the free-kick was a reminder to everyone of his quality, there was a moment in the 59th minute when he brought down a lofted ball from Sarthak Golui to cross in. Though that cross was intercepted, it reflected just how good he was today. The third goal saw Rehnesh at fault again but a rejuvenated Pereira was exploring the depths of his luck today as yet another of his half-chance went in. 

Playing as the number 10, Pereira had to drop down very often to win the balls, but he maintained a decent 64% passing accuracy even in such pressure. He even contributed at the back during the closing stages of both the halves with an interception and a block to ensure that NorthEast didn’t find any way in, whatsoever.

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