Two opportunistic first half strikes stimulated Delhi Dynamos’ efficient 3-1 victory over FC Pune City in an Indian Super League (ISL) contest that brightened their semi-final prospects here on Thursday.
It was Dynamos’ second home win at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium after three consecutive 1-1 draws that catapulted them to the second position in the standings, level on 18 points from 10 matches with leaders FC Goa, only trailing them on goal difference.
English striker Adil Nabi and defenders Anas Edathodika and Norweigian great John Arne Riise got on to the scoresheet to round off a satisfactory day for Dynamos. Pune’s marquee man Romanian Adrian Mutu’s free-kick conversion in the dying seconds of the match was only an aberration from the flow of the game.
Pune dropped a place after their demoralising loss, staying on 15 points having played a game more than Dynamos.
Dynamos have struggled for goal scoring only eight in nine matches and it was a pity that a poor turnout witnessed (around 4,000) Dynamos’ most neat display at home in the tournament so far.
The hosts determinedly seized the whip hand from the inception primarily attacking by the right-side calling goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya into action.
Pune were forced to chase the ball and they valiantly lunged into challenges to get possession often emerging second best in those duels, conceding free-kicks in dangerous positions.
Dynamos were livelier on the right flank and mustered some meaningful attacks through that channel.
Adil Nabi was sent clear on goal by an opportunistic pass over a hapless Pune backline that inexplicably maintained a high line.
But he failed to control the bouncing ball, thwarted by an advancing Arindam, and unsuccessfully tried to guide it in and was ultimately cleared by a couple of backtracking Pune defenders.
Pune had their first relevant attempt in the 35th minute through the left hand side but conceded a corner of a resultant swift counter-attack that contributed to the the first goal.
The industrious and inspiring Frenchman Florent Malouda swung in a corner which was relayed by a Robin Singh flick, with Arindam pulled out of his line into a hopeless position, for Englishman Adil Nabi to direct it into the goal.
With a spring in their steps, dominant Dynamos doubled their lead five minutes later taking a similar route only from the other side of the pitch.
After fooling Pune defenders with a near post corner, this time he punted his shot in the far corner where an unmarked Anas Edathodika, coming from behind, to head home.
Stung into action, Pune got an excellent opportunity to pull one back and get some motivation before the break, but Duth midfielder Wesley Verhoek failed to push the ball into a gaping goal after getting at the end of a weak punched clearance from Dynamos’ Spanish custodian Tony Doblas.
Dynamos began their second half sojourn much in the same vein as the first session, keeping control on the proceedings.
One expected Pune to be up for the challenge of overturning the two goal lead but Englishman David Platt’s side didn’t even look like scoring after the break, barely going through the motions.
Dynamos coach Roberto Carlos beamed on the touchline while overseeing his wards go 3-0 up on 87 minutes when Riise converted a penalty, won by a nippy Zodingliana Tochhawng after drawing an illegitimate foul on him from Govin Singh.
Mutu did reduce the margin with an expertly-taken free kick late in the game but was only a deviation from the flow.