Emiliano Alfaro scored a winner in the 93rd minute as FC Pune City and Mumbai City FC produced some brilliant end-to-end football at the Balewadi on Wednesday night in a dramatic Maharashtra derby which ended 2-1 in favour of the home side.
Diego Carlos scampered away after Mumbai’s high defensive line was caught out of position three minutes into injury time and laid it off perfectly for Alfaro to tap into the back of the net and break the hearts of Mumbai City fans. Pune was trailing when Balwant Singh cut in from the right to send a stunning shot into the corner of the net in the 15th minute.
The goal came after Gerson Vieira’s brilliant curling effort was saved by Kamaljit Singh, the Brazilian was the man of the match, but wasted a glorious opportunity to win it for Mumbai City when his header from point-blank range somehow missed the target.
Mumbai City was in the ascendancy after opening the scoring, but Pune slowly worked their way back into the contest. Their efforts were finally rewarded when Raju Gaikwad’s clumsy challenge on Diego resulted in a penalty which Alfaro converted with ease. With just 18 minutes of regulation time left, Pune pushed men forward. Jonatan Lucca’s stinging effort was kept out by Amrinder and Marcelinho couldn’t play Kean Lewis through with the match in its dying seconds, but the home side had the last laugh with a sucker punch goal from which Mumbai couldn’t recover.
There were chances at both ends with the goalkeepers coming under tremendous pressure. Vieira’s low shot awkwardly bounced off Kamaljit but his teammate Lalchhuanmawia Fanai cleared the ball with the dangerous Balwant lurking to tap in the rebound. A total of 24 shots were taken in the match, with a mammoth 15 of them being on target. But it was everything that one expects from a derby, including full-blooded tackles. Both teams committed a combined 34 fouls as they fought for the three points.
Pune have now won two games in a row after their heroics in Kolkata against ATK. They are now sitting pretty in 2nd place after three matches, but the top of the table Bengaluru FC have a match in hand. For Mumbai City, the result means they are in 6th place having lost two games out of three. But all the teams below them are yet to play their third match – which makes the result in Pune all the more important.
The Stallions host Chennaiyin FC next while Mumbai City has a difficult trip to Kerala Blasters.