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Pune hold Mohun Bagan to 1–1 draw

Federation Cup

Vasco, Jan 1: Thirteen times winners Mohun Bagan failed to hold on to a first–half lead to draw 1–1 with Pune FC in a Federation Cup Group B football encounter here on Thursday.

Japanese attacking midfielder Ryuji Sueoka converted a second–half pelty for Pune to nullify an early lead taken by the Kolkata giants through Cameroonian striker Pierra Boya at the Tilak Maidan.

After two games each, Pune have surged to the top of the group with four points, while Bagan languish at fourth, maging only two.

The first half of the well–contested match was pacy with both sides knocking at each other’s defences through the flanks. Bagan utilised the central zone of the pitch better with mid–fielders Haitian Sony Norde and Japanese Katsumi Yusa alongside Boya creating a lot of opportunities.

Bagan were rewarded for their attacks in the 26th minute when Boya followed Norde’s cross from the left and headed past the Pune FC goalkeeper.

A little later, Boya volleyed a Norde cross which was deflected wide off the target by a Pune defender. Yusa too looked hungry for goals as he surged forward at the slightest opportunity.

After the breather both teams were slow coming out of the blocks, and tried their luck from a distance, especially Bagan midfielder Denson Devadas.

Pune sprang into action in the 65th minute as Liberian medio Eric Brown’s shot stuck Bagan defender Shovik Ghosh’s hand and the referee pointed to the dreaded spot. Sueoka equalised with a cool and composed finish.

A minute later, Pune came close to netting a second, but the Japanese striker’s header hit the upright after beating Bagan goalie Shilton Paul.

Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen brought in striker Jeje Lalpekhlua to replace a bungling Balwant Singh and midfielder Shouvik Chakraborty for Lalkamal Bhowmick, but none could add to the scoreline. IANS

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Ankur Kalita

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