ISL 2: Maha Derby sees Mumbai, Pune play out goalless draw
FC Pune City missed a golden chance to climb to the top of the points table in the Indian Super League (ISL) as hosts Mumbai City FC held them to a goalless draw in their Maharashtra Derby match at the D.Y. Patil Stadium on Friday.
Post the result on Friday, Mumbai are in the sixth spot in the points table with 12 points from nine games, having won three, draw three and lost three.
On the other hand, Pune stay in the second position with 15 points from 10 games, having won four, drawn three and lost three. Pune have the same points as FC Goa who have played one match less as compared to the former's ten and the goal difference is an identical plus 1. Pune have lost one game more than Goa and retained their second spot.
Following draw in their previous games, the home side went in with a 4-3-3 formation, while Pune went in with a 4-5-1 combination.
Neither side was able to take advantage of the chances that came their way in the generally slow-paced game.
The first half in the second leg Maharashtra Derby saw a battle for the midfield for the major portion though Mumbai attacked with gusto in the first ten minutes without much success.
Seeking a win to propel themselves into the second spot on the table, Mumbai adopted a 4-3-3 format with marquee player-cum-manager Nicolas Anelka taking the field from the beginning and Sunil Chhetri warming the substitutes' bench after playing for India against Guam in the World Cup qualifier last evening at Bengaluru.
Along with fellow-strikers Frederic Piquionne and Subash Singh -- who was back after a one-match suspension following the red card he picked up against Atletico de Kolkata here -- Anelka kept the rival defense on the toes with good promptings from midfielders Selim Benachour and Christian Bustos.
Pune, also seeking a win after three games to shoot to the top, slowly came into their own and their marquee signing Adrian Mutu, playing the role of the lone striker, and attacking medio Tancay Sanli made forays into the rival half, but without much cohesion.
The visitors too could not start with Eugeneson Lyngdoh after his appearance in yesterday's World Cup qualifier. Like Mumbai did for Chhetri, he too was kept in the substitutes'
bench by Pune.
Mutu tried a long-range effort that sailed well over the bar and at the other end an excellent goalmouth centre by Subash Singh was intercepted in time by rival defender and captain Didier Zakora before it could spell danger.
Subash got, perhaps, the best chance to fire the ball in but put his left-footed shot, taken in a hurry, into the side netting after having intercepted rival custodian Arindam Bhattacharjee's clearance, taken a pot shot which was blocked by the Pune goalie and then muffed with the rebound shot.
Mumbai, who went into the game with a 1-2 head to head score against their state rivals including a 1-3 defeat in the first leg on October 5, suffered a blow later when medio Brandon Fernandes pulled his hamstring in his first start of the season and was replaced by Sampathkumar Kuttimany.
The half ended with neither team managing to break the deadlock.
Mutu could have scored soon after resumption but the Romanian's left-footed volley went slightly wide of the left post. Later his on-the-turn top-of-the-box try was tipped over the bar by Mumbai goalie Subrata Paul.
Then Piquionne came up with a good effort for Mumbai when he out-jumped Zakora to meet a long chip of Darren O' Dea with his head, but the ball went wide of the mark.
Substitute Kuttimany then chested a headed pass from Piquionne, following a floated ball into the penalty area from defender Pavel Cmovs, on to his own foot but his close-range volley saw Bhattacharya make a reflex action save under the Pune bar.
Mumbai secured a free-kick five minutes from time just outside the penalty area but Anelka's chip was cleared for a corner by defender Roger Johnson.
Mumbai are set to meet FC Goa next on November 17 in the latter's territory, while Pune are poised to take on Delhi Dynamos two days later in their next encounter.