Pune: Marquee man Adrian Mutu's timely left-footed volley ensured that FC Pune City maintained close proximity with league leaders FC Goa in their 2-2 stalemate in an Indian Super League (ISL) contest here on Sunday.
The Romanian veteran volleyed home the equalising goal in the 90th minute to snatch a point for the home side, thereby improving his team's to the second spot with 14 points from nine matches, ahead of Delhi Dynamos on goal difference. Goa remained on top with 15 points from nine matches.
They were put ahead in the 32nd minute by Eugeneson Lyngdoh but then conceded twice, first in the 35th through Rafael Coelho and nine minutes later from Jonatan Lucca. Mutu's scored the 90th minute to spare the hosts blushes.
Pune coach David Platt made four changes to the team that lost 0-2 Kerala Blasters FC in their previous match.
Mutu was recalled to the starting XI. Manish Maithani, James Bailey and Moirangthem Gouramangi were also been given starts at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium.
His counterpart, Zico fielded as many as six Indians, one more than the minimum requirement. He made only a change replacing Luciano Sobrosa with Romeo Fernandes.
Mutu was immediately in the thick of things taking a swerving free-kick in the fifth minute that forced a save out of goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani. Pune enjoyed ascendancy in the early periods and duly went ahead in the 32nd minute through Lyngdoh.
Ivorian great Didier Zokora was the creator of the goal with a powerful run straight into the heart of the FC Goa defence. Lyngdoh did the rest with a tap in when the ball was teed into his path by Zokora.
But Goa were swift to respond, equalising three minutes later, courtesy of a Coelho individual effort. He breached the static Pune defence with ease to drill his shot into the net.
Goa capitalised on the momentum suddenly gained after the equaliser to go up in the 44th minute. Lucca's shot would have gone straight to keeper Steve Simonsen. But a slight deflection, from an intercepting defender, diverted the path of the ball away from Simonsen and into the net.
Goa went ino the break ahead 2-1. The onus was on Pune to push forward after the break and they returned with the right intentions.
Goa, in contrast, played the waiting game and looked to pounce on the counter.
Platt introduced Bikash Jairu in place of Jackichand Singh to infuse that missing spark in his team.
Pune enjoyed more possession and came close in the 75th minute through Mutu who rose above his marker but only managed to guide his header narrowly wide off the far post.
That served as inspiration for Pune to try harder and their efforts bore fruit when Mutu's prompt left-footed volley from inside the box went in just in the nick of time.
Photos: Kareena Kapoor Khan and Aamir Khan at Mumbai airport
Photos: SRK, wife Gauri, Aishwarya Rai, Shweta Bachchan at Vogue Awards
Photos: Harbhajan Singh-Geeta Basra's TV outing with daughter Hinaya
Photos: Malaika Arora flaunts ripped jeans like a boss!
Photos: Vaani Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Dia Mirza sizzle on the ramp