Shillong Lajong came back from behind to beat FC Pune City 3-2 in a round of 16 clash of Super Cup 2018 on Wednesday at the Kaling Stadium, Bhubaneswar. Abdoulaye Koffi, Rakesh Pradhan and Samuel Lalmuanpuia scored for the I-League side while Jonatan Lucca and Marcelinho netted Pune's goals.
Five overseas players started in the FC Pune City starting XI while Lajong had only four in their line up. Marcelinho started upfront for Pune with Jonatan Lucca operating just behind him. Diego Carlos and Ashique Kuruniyan operated on the flanks and Marko Stankovic started in central midfield. Manuel Ortiz partnered Gurtej Singh in central defence.
The Indian Super League (ISL) side dominated proceedings right from the starting quite expectedly and broke the deadlock in the 17th minute of the match. They won a free-kick after Lajong defender Juho Oh brought down Marcelinho. Lucca converted a stunning free-kick from almost 35 yards out to put his team in front.
Marcelinho doubled Pune’s lead in the 22nd minute with a curling left footed shot. Diego Carlos ran down the left flank and passed the ball to his skipper on the right side of the box. The Brazilian forward switched feet and curled the ball into the far top corner.
Lajong reduced the margin in the 29th minute thanks to a neat finish from striker Abdoulaye Koffi. Daniel Odafin forwarded a through ball from the edge of the box and Koffi slotted the ball home.
The Stallions continued to dominate the game by attacking in numbers. Ashique came close to score on two occasions in the last 15 minutes of the first-half but failed to put the ball into the back of the net.
Just three minutes after the second half kick-off, Kuruniyan squandered the easiest chance of the match when he failed to tap in from a handshaking distance. Sahil Panwar entered the box from the left and squared the ball for the winger who was in front of goal but he failed to control the ball and it went above the crossbar.
Lajong custodian Nidhin Lal made back-to-back saves in the 55th and 56th minute to deny Pune from increasing their lead. The first was Lolo’s header from Marcelinho’s free-kick which Lal dived to his left and saved and the second was Diego’s long ranger which he managed to push above the crossbar.
At the hour mark, Pune finally got punished for missing too many chances as Lajong equalised from a counter-attack. Sheen Stevenson forwarded a through ball inside the box eyeing Rakesh Pradhan’s run. The ball took a deflection of Lolo’s feet before reaching Pradhan who found the back of the net.
Drama unfolded in the 91st minute when Vishal Kaith brought down Abdoulaye Koffi inside the box. The Lajong striker was one on one with the Pune goalkeeper as Kaith came out of his line and pulled Koffi's trailing feet. Samuel Lamuanpuia converted the spot-kick and confirmed a memorable win for his side.
Lajong will now face Mohun Bagan in the quarterfinal of Super Cup 2018.