Visitors Blackburn Rovers brushed aside a spirited performance by a 10-man Pune FC as they defeated the hosts 3-0 in what was the first ever match in India by an English Premier League side here this evening.
Grenadian forward Jason Roberts scored a brace (40th & 76th), while Spaniard Reben Rochina (54th) netted in the other, in the rain soaked exhibition match at the Shiv Chatrapati stadium at Balewadi.
For Pune FC, stand-out performer was undoubtedly their goal-keeper Shahnila Meloly, whose numerous valiant saves not only prevent the hosts from an embarrassing outcome, but also earned the custodian praise from the Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean and Roberts.
Defender Chika Wali too did well in manning the Pune FC half as he made good blocks.
Earlier, Pune FC did well in the initial minutes though to keep the trio of Ayegbeni Yakubu, Junior Hoilett and Roberts at bay.
There was some excitement amidst the sparse crowd which attended the proceedings, when local player Baldeep Singh Junior kicked the ball over the rival post, something which happened very rarely in the rest of the match.
However, the sting in Pune FC's fight was out when their defender Anas Edathodika was sent-off in the 20th minute after being showed the yellow card twice. Reduced to 10-men, the hosts had to change their tactics and preferred to tighten their defence.
However, Blackburn capitalised and began dictating terms to their opposition and only some wonderful saves by Meloly, including a superb dive to block off a free-kick from outside the box by Rouben, restricted them to 1-0 in the first half.
The goal came via a crisp right-footer by Roverts from the right flank which crashed between the goal-keeper and the right-post.