Dempo, Pune play to a thrilling draw.

Nov 28: Arthur Papas’s boys produced a stunning display in the second half as Dempo Sports Club settled for a 1-1 draw against Pune Football Club in the 11th round of the Airtel I-League played at Duler stadium on Wednesday.

Dempo SC, who were without their towering centrebacks Australian Simon Colosimo and Japanese Shinnosuke Honda had to resort to a relatively new centerback pair in Debabrata Roy and Selwyn Fernandes. Meanwhile, Pune fielded the same starting eleven that managed to snatch a point in their last game against Salgaocar.

It was a positive start from Arthur Papas’ men and they were without a doubt the superior side in the opening stages. The Golden Eagles created a couple of half chances and Prabir Das saw his drilled effort parried by the rival keeper. Both the team led 0-0 into the half time.

The half time pep talk from coach Papas took immediate effect as his side went ahead barely a minute after resumption. Holi Charan Narzary skipped past his marker and fired in a low diagonal cross and the arriving Roberto seemed to have all the time in the world as six of Pune FC’s players with confused faces stayed rooted to the ground and watched on as Roberto drilled home the opener from inside the box.

It was a hideous goal to concede but the Red Lizards did not sit back and lament instead they went to the other end and stunned Dempo with the equaliser. Douhou Pierre displayed his dribbling skills as he eased past three of Dempo defenders before he set up Mustapha and the latter’s power-packed shot ended up in the nets even though Dempo custodian Laxmikant Kattimani got a hand to it. The game burst into life after the goals and the teams played in total contrast to their first half performances.

Arthur Papas introduced Alwyn George and Gabriel Fernandes in the second half and it was a revelation as the fresh legs pegged Pune on the backfoot. The substitutes added flair and dynamism to Dempo’s performance. Gabriel in particular came on and created several opportunities for his team-mate.

It could have been a trump card substitution if Alwyn had executed a well worked passing move between Gabriel and Jewel Raja Shaik but much to the dismay of supporters and staff he shot wide from inside the 6-yard box.

The signs were promising but the finishing not so much. Alwyn George was unfortunate to see his header come back off the post and Peter Carvalho spurred two glorious opportunities thereafter.

Roberto Silva was adjudged as the man of the match.