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Pune City inches closer to playoff berth

FC Pune City continued taking small, but firm steps towards clinching a knockout place in the Indian Super League.

Goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya kept his nerve; his teammates slowed down the pace and focussed on ball possession.

Mumbai City FC sat back, kept its highest scorer Sunil Chetri on the bench. The result was a goalless draw at the D.Y. Patil Stadium.

Needing a victory against Pune City to be within range of other contenders for the knockout berths, Mumbai City relied on individual thrusts for goals.

Missed chances

Anelka was forced into replacing Brandon Fernandes in the first half; then kept faith in his chosen men till time ran out. Subash Singh and Fred Piquionne came close, missing the target by inches.

Arindam, manning the Pune City goal and chosen ahead of Steve Simonsen, proved his credentials with a reflex block to foil Mumbai City’s best chance. Substitute S. Kuttymani controlled a lob from Piquionne with his chest and swung a right-footer goalwards, the custodian had the angle covered.

On the other hand, Platt continued to keep rivals guessing with six changes in the playing squad. Star striker Mutu and in-form Tuncay Sanli kept rival defenders on their toes.

Bikash Jairu and Gurjinder Singh played wing-halves, given space to create moves down the flanks. Govin Singh and Sushanth Mathew were new faces in defence.

Mumbai City kept up a flow of attacks to keep custodian Arindam Bhattacharya busy.

Subash got a close look at goal in the 27th minute, quick to reach and trap a rebound off the goalkeeper, but unlucky to see a hasty shot crash into the side-netting.

Platt covered his face in anxiety on the bench, angry at the slipup and relieved at the escape.

Chetri and Lyngdoh watched from the bench, when their presence was needed to inject spark into the game, following a goalless first half.

Both had played the night before in Bengaluru for India against Guam. Mutu forced Subrata into full stretch towards the right post, tracking the ball flying wide and bouncing onto the hoarding.

Kalu Uche joined Mutu in the forwardline, as Platt took out Sanli in the 67th minute. Jackichand Singh joined the fray as Platt strengthened the offence. But Mumbai defence stood tall.

The result: Mumbai City FC 0 drew with FC Pune City 0.

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