Winger Jackichand Singh scored the fastest goal of the Indian Super League (ISL) second season to help home side FC Pune City beat defending champions Atletico de Kolkata 1-0 at the Balewadi Sports Complex here on Saturday.
Coming into the match after defeat at the hands of Delhi Dynamos FC, Jackichand’s second minute strike steered Pune to their third victory of the season, which also saw them climb to the top of the points table with nine points from four games.
On the other hand, with their first loss of the season, the visitors dropped one place to second position with seven points from four games.
It was a first start in the league for India’s midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh, and his compatriot Jackichand also found his place in the starting XI after returning from national duty.
Adrian Mutu, the Romanian marquee player for the home side, remained on the bench.
Pune’s English coach David Platt went in with a 4-4-2 formation for the crucial clash and it worked pretty well for the home side as they eventually halted Atletico’s stunning run this season.
The Antonio Lopez Habas-coached Kolkata went in with a 4-2-3-1 formation.
It was the away team that got proceeding underway, but it turned in favour of the home side in just the second minute. Lyngdoh cross-field punt took a deflection off Kolkata’s Ofentse Nato allowing Jackichand to get to the ball first, in the box.
The winger lashed a brilliant drive into the opposite side of goal, and the team got off to a dream start.
Pune was rocked in the 36th minute by the withdrawal of Lenny Rodrigues and in his place came Bikash Jairu for his ISL debut.
Pune should have gone 2-0 up when Lyngdoh got the ball in the box after a clearance from Nicky Shorey’s free-kick, but the Bengaluru FC player blasted the ball high and wide.
The referee blew his whistle for half time and Pune deservedly went ahead into the interval.
The second half kicked off with Atletico coach Habas making the first change for the visitors. Javi Lara was replaced by Jaime Gavilan. But that didn’t matter much as the home side kept pressing through the second half and testing the opposition defense.
When the clock struck 62nd minute an uncomfortable Jackichand was replaced Manish Maithani but Pune continued to make in-roads into the Kolkata box with dangerous consistency.
Marquee player Adrian Mutu got his first taste in the 81st minute coming in place of Tuncay Sanli who was impeccable through the game with his attacking process.
The referee finally blew the whistle for the last time after four minutes of added time to the regulation.
Pune next face Chennaiyin FC in an away match on October 24, while Atletico take on NorthEast United FC in an away match on October 23.