Rovers power past Pune FC

Pune FC suffered their first AFC Cup defeat going down 1-3 to Tampines Rovers FC in a Group-H Round 3 encounter at the Jalan Besar stadium here on Wednesday.

Attacker Riga Mustapha (15th minute) gave Pune FC the lead with a penalty kick conversion before striker Miljan Mrdakovic (38th) pulled the hosts level in the first half.

Second half strikes from medio Closa Gonzalez (61st) and Mrdakovic (69th) handed Tampines Rovers all three points.

With this loss, Pune FC slipped down to fourth place in Group ‘H’ behind leaders Kitchee SC (7 pts), Nay Pyi Taw FC (4 pts) and Tampines Rovers (3 pts) midway through the group-stage.

Coach Mike Snoei made four changes in the lineup handing starts to Mirjan Pavlovic, Anthony D’Souza, Mumtaz Akhtar and Gurjinder Kumar in place of Arata Izumi, Dhanpal Ganesh, Srikanth Ramu and Fanai Lalrempuia.

After soaking pressure in the opening exchanges, Pune FC took the lead at the quarter-hour mark.

As Pavlovic jumped to head a high rising ball inside the box, Tampines goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma’at fumbled and continued to head out hoping to control. In doing so, he ended up pulling down Pavlovic and the referee pointed to the spot.

Riga stepped up and coolly converted from the spot, sending Hyrulnizam the wrong way while slotting home at the bottom left corner.

Tampines restored parity through Mrdakovic who headed in from close range.

At the other end, Pune FC began to push up and went close through Pavlovic, Riga and Gabriel. However, poor finishing let them down. Rovers then pumped in goals from Closa and Mrdakovic to complete formalities.

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