Air India hold Pune in I-League

Pune, Jan 22 (IANS) Pune FC Sunday afternoon allowed Air India to dictate terms as they were held to a 2-2 draw in the 16th round of I-League football.

Air India striker Ezeh Henry put Pune on the back-foot as he scored in the 14th minute. For most part of the first half, Pune played catch-up with its forward-line finding it difficult to get past Air India goalkeeper Pawan Kumar.

Air India shocked Pune’s confidence 17 minutes into the second half when Sandesh Gadkari set up Takayuki Omi in the box for a 2-0 lead.

Jeje Lalpekhlua, who himself came on as a substitute, returned to the bench, and his replacement Maninder Singh chanced upon the rare opportunity to show his talent and kept threatening Air India with a series of quick passes.

Subhash Singh and Arata Izumi worked the Air India defence, but the gaps were not coming their way. Finally, it was seasoned Shanmugham Venkatesh who broke through the Air India defence and scored in the 76th minute.

Seven minutes were added as injury time, which came as a reprieve for Pune FC, which by then was controlling the pace of the game and dominating in all departments.

In the third minute of injury-time, Maninder’s corner kick was cleared over the sidelines bringing in Lester Fernandes for throw in. Lester’s floater landed right in the middle and defender Chika Wali headed in the equaliser for Pune.

With this draw, Pune FC now have 27 points, while Air India are on 21 points.

Indo-Asian News Service