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Fancied teams bite dust in Fed Cup openers

Last updated on: September 17, 2011 21:40 IST

An inspired show by 10-man Pune FC helped them beat Dempo SC 2-1 in a group league match of the 33rd Federation Cup, which was held at the Salt Lake Stadium, in Kokata on Saturday.

In a bizarre incident, Pune FC midfielder Lester Fernandez was sent off the field after he was booked for wearing jerseys with two separate numbers on either side of the break. He wore jersey No 22 in the first half and no 25 in the second half which was brought to referee's notice by Dempo players.

The match had to be stopped for 13 minutes as both teams were engaged in heated argument as referee Khemba Singh gave marching order to Fernandez.

It was Pune FC, which dominated proceedings, scoring twice inside the first 20 minutes, courtesy foreign recruit Mandjou Keita (8th) and India international Jeje Lalpeklhua (18th).

Dempo pulled one back through Joy Ferrao at the fag end with a minute left for regulation time to end.

Keita provided the lead after receiving a pass from top of the box and he evaded his marker Mahesh Gawli, and sloted home from close range.

After another 10 minutes, Jeje doubled the lead as he headed home unchallenged off Othalo Tadia's cross from right, putting the four-time national league champions under pressure.

Dempo tried their best to come back but Subrata Paul was excellent in his job under the Pune bar, as he thwarted all their attempts of trying to level the proceedings.

In another match in Kolkata, East Bengal managed to save face. A brilliant strike from skipper Sanju Pradhan helped defending champions East Bengal, avoid the ignominy of defeat as they managed to hold Mohammedan Sporting to a 1-1 draw in their group C opener.

East Bengal made an aggressive start but conceded a goal against the run of play by a penalty converted in the 18th minute by their African recruit Okoroigwe.

The morale of the seven-time champions was a bit down after conceding the goal.

But Sanju scored the equaliser with a brilliant strike from top of the box to keep red and golds in the hunt.

Fresh from their back-to-back wins in the qualifers that earned them a berth in the main round, Mohammedan Sporting's cause got a real boost when a misjudgement by Sandip Nandy earned them a penalty in the 16th minute. Okoroigwe converted the spot-kick without any issue.

But a Sanju did an excellent job after the changeover as his powerful shot from top of the box left Mohammedan Sporting goalie Naseem Akhtar clueless.

Meanwhile in Pune, Chenco fired in two goals for qualifiers Royal Wahingdoh, as they stunned fancied Mohun Bagan 2-1 in the opening match.

Chenco stole the limelight with strikes in the 49th and 54th minutes as the country's premier league-cum-knockout tournament produced an upset on the very first day itself.

Multiple times champions Mohun Bagan reduced the margin in the 75th minute through Ashim Biswas in the Group A match.

Mohun Bagan were unlucky not to have surged into the lead in the first half. Sunil Chhetri was deprived by the upright twice and then Ramirez Barreto's header hit the crosspiece.

East Bengal will now take on Pune FC while Dempo will face Mohammedan Sporting challenge in group C two matches on September 19.

Prayag United SC will lock horns against their Chirag Kerala while Sporting Clube de Goa will take on Air India in two group D fixtures on Sunday.

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