Ashique stars with a hat-trick
Pune Football Club downed a spirited Salgaocar Football Club in the final group fixture of the Bandodkar Gold Trophy held at the Duler Stadium in Mapusa. The man of the match Ashique Kuruniyan led his side into the semi-finals with a hat-trick, Bhunthalun Samte scored the equalizer which cancelled naro Shrestha’s opening & only goal for the Greens.
The Goan outfit started the game on the front foot. Naro would have drawn first blood in the very 10th minute. The striker received a brilliant cross from the right which he controlled & tried to send smashing to the left of custodian Anuj Kumar forcing a diving save from the latter. The Pune lads were not to be outplayed without a fight. The combined trio of Omega, Balkar Singh & Ashique were haunting the Green citadel whose custodian Rohan Sheikh manged to keep out as he pulled off some brilliant saves. The Salgaocar side took the lead as the game crossed over the half-hour mark as a result of a well-played combination from Jason Barbosa whose through-ball from the right wing found Myron Borges who outsmarted a defender & found Naro who sent the ball smashing goal-bound only after it bounced off the gloves of Anuj. It wasn’t long before the equalizer was scored to keep things interesting. Ashique was the provider for the goal as his cross beat keeper Rohan & found Bhunthalun who only had an open goal waiting & to take advantage of which he did. The scored remained at 1-1 as the referee called for half-time.
In the second-half the Pune side turned the heat up as they piled the pressure from multiple attacks. Rohan however was upto the task on multiple occasions as the custodian blocked a cunning free-kick & saved many close & some long-range efforts. Ashique’s hat-trick began in the 54th minute as the man in form struck leaving the players & the crowd in awe. Liston was unable to capitalise on an opportunity to equalize as the forward received the ball from substitute Ronaldo Oliviera and after beating the defenders dribbled past an onrushing keeper had an open goal in front of him but lost his balance & saw his shot travel wide much to the disappointment of his team-mates & the crowds in the stands. Rohan denied Pune’s forward trio on multiple occasions but as the game headed into added time Ashique seemed to get a rush which translated into the 2 goals to complete his hat-trick. With a score of 1-4 in their final game & leading their group with 7 points Pune FC enter the semi-finals of the tournament.