I-League: Pune FC lose to Churchill Brothers SC at home
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As referee Pranjal Banerjee blew the final whistle, a crowd of Pune FC players surrounded him remonstrating loudly. Stewards had to be called in to separate the players and accord a safe passage to the match officials. Players surrounding and remonstrating with the referee were hallmarks of the Pune FC versus Churchill Brothers SC I-League match at the Balewadi Sports Complex on Sunday. Churchill Brothers SC were the eventual winners, thanks to a 90th minute penalty scored by captain and striker Roberto Silva.
The game was a largely scrappy affair with both teams content to knock the ball around without fashioning any particular goalscoring chances. Churchill Brothers had the first chance of the match when a low drive by their captain Silva bounced awkwardly in front of PFC goalkeeper Shahinlal Meloly who scrambled to palm it away. The next big chance fell to PFC in the 35th minute when Karma Tsewang floated a cross into the box. South Sudan striker James Moga and former India goalkeeper Sandip Nandy both leaped for the ball. Moga won the aerial duel and managed to knock the ball on for midfielder Khanthang Paite. The midfielder's shot was parried by Churchill Brothers' defender R Dharmaraj and Nishiguche Daisuke could only drill the rebound over the cross-bar.
Churchill Brother's skipper, the Brazilian, Roberto Silva dropped into midfield to see more of the ball and this change paid almost immediate dividends. Silva's through-ball found Akram Moghrabi who raced on with PFC centre-back Caitano Costa in his wake. Costa tugged Moghrabi's shirt pulling him down. Referee Banerjee immediately showed Costa the red card, to leave PFC to play another 45 minutes with just 10 men.
However, Churchill Brothers SC were unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority as Pune FC defended resolutely and played with a distinct verve that was missing in the first half. The second half was full of cynical fouls by both teams who looked content to be playing for a draw. Pune FC had their biggest chance of the game in the 83rd minute when a perfectly weighted pass from Douhou Pierre found Moga in the Churchill Brothers penalty box. Moga skipped past Bilal Najjarine but keeper Sandip Nandy stood tall and blocked Moga's shot with his legs.