Pune: Adrian Mutu chose the last minute of injury time against FC Goa to open his Indian Super League account, twisting brilliantly to crack a left-footer past the excellent Laxmikant Kattimani in goal to earn FC Pune City a 2-2 draw.
Mutu popped up with his strike just when it seemed that a goal each from Brazilian duo Rafael Coelho and Jonatan Lucca would seal a memorable win for FC Goa after they had fought back from a goal down to go in 2-1 ahead at the break.
Eugeneson Lyngdoh had given Pune the lead after executing a fine first-time finish, assisted by Didier Zokora who drove like a bull through Goa's midfield to lay it up for his Indian teammate. But Pune's joy lasted for less than three minutes as Coelho wriggled past a couple of defenders to finish low and under Steven Simonsen's body -- a shot which would have been saved by the former Stoke City keeper nine out of ten times.
In fact, Pune could have taken the lead earlier when Zokora had made a similar run through midfield to set up Mutu one on one with Kattimani -- the Romanian striker hitting it straight at the keeper's body.
Pune were uneasy after conceding an equaliser so soon -- and Goa took full advantage of this by peppering Simonsen with shot after shot -- drawing a couple of brilliant saves from him in the process. But the barrier broke again when Lucca cut in on his right foot and sent a low shot towards the near post which crept in after a deflection off Pune midfielder James Bailey.
It was a cagey affair in the second half until the last 20 minutes, with Pune needing Lyngdoh to inspire them into action. The Indian international flicked a ball over his head to set himself up for a shot, but Kattimani was on hand to block it.
The Bengaluru FC player was in the box again when Mutu headed back across goal from a Nicky Shorey cross, but his outstretched legs fell short of connecting with what have been a guaranteed goal.
Pune manager David Platt brought on fan favourite Tuncay Sanli for the last few minutes and he was in the thick of action right away, heading towards the penalty spot from the far post, where Mutu couldn't reach in time to flick it in.
Goa maintained excellent control in defence, clearing corner after corner from Pune and threatening on the break with the skill of Leonardo Moura, Romeo Fernandes and Mandar Dessai.
Romeo had the chance to kill the game off in the 90th minute when he collected a far post cross from Mandar, only to flash his shot wide when he could have squared it for former Pune player and ISL 2015 debutant Dudu Omagbeni.
Roger Johnson and Mutu could have made the winger immediately regret his missed chance when both went close with headers in injury time -- Kattimani keeping them out with low saves to his left.
This relief hardly lasted for Romeo and Co as Mutu was at the right place at the right time to acrobatically smash in a volley from a loose ball in the 93rd minute -- triggering wild celebrations at a packed Balewadi.
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Updated Date: Nov 08, 2015 23:34:06 IST