Israil Gurung was the hero for FC Pune City as they coasted to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Mumbai City FC in their opening Indian Super League (ISL) clash in Pune on Monday.
Israil set-up the first two goals for Turkish international Tuncay Sanli to score and then scored himself to kick-start Pune’s title charge.
The teams were tied 1-1 at the change of ends but Pune turned the heat on their rivals in the second session with Tuncay and Israil combining to give the team the lead in the 56th minute and then Israil scored a goal of his own in the 68th minute to kill the match as a contest.
Mumbai City FC scored their only goal through Frederic Piquionne in the 34th minute.
Mumbai were tentative at the start but with such an array of attacking talent they were always certain to stamp their class. However, much against the run of play, Pune surged ahead, thanks to a measured pass from Israil which Tuncay sneaked from behind the Mumbai defence and headed home from close range in the 12th minute.
Mumbai had to wait till after the half an hour mark to restore parity. The visitors had gone agonisingly close with Sony Norde’s shot coming off the goalpost but they were celebrating again as a perfect ball from Ashutosh Mehta saw Piquionne beat a non-existent offside trap and head past the goalkeeper.
In the second session, the match was turned on its head by Pune City.
Pune surged ahead for the second time in the 56th minute. It was Israil again on the right who crossed in the heart of the goalmouth and past several defenders, Tuncay came up with a diving header.
Mumbai were still in the game but Israil sealed all escape routes in the 68th minute. It was a fortunate goal as Adrian Mutu, introduced in the second half, found Israil on the right and his intended cross struck the outstretched leg of marker and sailed past Mumbai’s young goalkeeper Albino Gomes.
Mumbai City marquee player-cum-manager Nicolas Anelka introduced himself in the 75th minute but the visitors had left themselves with a mountain to climb in the last fifteen minutes.