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Rediff.com  » Sports » I-League: Venkatesh stars in Pune FC win

I-League: Venkatesh stars in Pune FC win

April 18, 2011 22:52 IST

Pune FC staged a comeback 2-1 victory over title chasers East Bengal in an I-League Round 22 encounter at the Balewadi Sports Complex, in Pune on Monday.

Goals from striker Mandjou Keita (31st) and medio Shanmugam Venkatesh (63rd) cancelled East Bengal's Uga Okpara's 17th minute strike to gain full points.

The victory was huge for it was a first this season against a Top-3 team in the league and thus made the win the biggest achieved by PFC.

Shanmugam VenkateshThe win took PFC to the top-half of the table. By moving into seventh position (26 points), PFC matched their best ever show way back in Round 7.

For East Bengal the loss was their second in away games and remained with 41 points.

PFC distinctly dominated play and threatened from the word go.

PFC threatened in the 15th minute when Venkatesh's cross found Arata's head, but EB 'keeper Sandip Nandy managed to keep it in check.

Against the run of play, East Bengal scored from their third corner. Skipper Saumik Dey took the corner from the left flag, which landed dangerously among the PFC defence and rolled on to an Uga Okpara, who finished the ball with ease.

Down by a goal, PFC fought hard. Medio Lester Fernandes time and again was quick. On one instance, his cross had Keita narrowly miss connecting a header, but then minutes later a combined move involving Othallo Tabia and Keita saw Lester let-fly a stiff attempt on goal into the 'keepers hands.

Medio Arata Izumi then had Gurjinder Kumar in the clean, but the latter fumbled inside the box.

With the game past the half hour mark, PFC found the equalizer. J Prasad from the left sent in a cross that ended up in Keita's possession and a one on one situation with the East Bengal 'keeper.

As Nandy moved out to evade the situation, Keita tried to lob, but the ball took flight. Keita using his presence of mind did well to shield Nandy as the ball came down and won the battle as the ball went off his body and foot into the goal.

With the score settled at 1-1, East Bengal went all out. Aussie striker Tolgay Osbey had a dangerous header off a Rahim Nabi cross make Subrata Paul stretch.

Changing ends, PFC survived a close moment in the 54th minute. Orgi Penn ran the ball to Tolgay, who in turn chipped it over defender Lamine Tamba to Baljit Sahni however as the PFC keeper dived to collect, Sahni missed as well to let go of a good chance.

PFC's winner was the effort of the tireless run that Subhash initiated on the left. The striker playing in only his second full start of the season outsmarted Nirmal Chhetri on the left and played the ball to a waiting Keita inside the penalty box. Keita tried on goal, which defender Okpara partially blocked with a slide. As the ball rolled goalward, Venkatesh did well to push the ball in.

Towards the end, Tamba did well to block a Penn shot from inside the box to cap PFC's memorable win.

Keita was named man of the match for his goal and assist, while for Venkatesh it was his second goal in the 2010-11 season. Keita took his goal tally to eight goals.