Propped up by goals from Adil Nabi and Enas Edathodia and John Arne Riise, Delhi Dynamos broke their winless run at home and closed in on a semifinal berth with a convincing 3-1 victory over Pune City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) football in New Delhi on Thursday.
Nabi scored the opening goal in the 35th minute while Edathodia found the net within a span of five minutes, heading one in on the 40th minute to give the hosts a comfortable cushion at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium that witnessed a poor turnout of about 3500.
Riise added to Pune City FC’s agony with another strike in the 87th minute, successfully converting a penalty that was awarded to the hosts after Zodingliana Tochhawng was felled by visiting player Govin Singh.
Romanian marquee player Adrian Mutu lived upto the tag, scoring a consolation goal (90+5) in the added time from a beautiful freekick.
The win, a much-needed one, takes the Dynamos to second place with 18 points from 10 games, while Pune City FC held on to their fourth place despite the reverse.
Frustrated with the run of three draws in front of their home crowd, the Dynamos showed intent straightaway. The defence, led by the ever-reliable Riise, and skipper Anderson Sebastiao de Souza, did not let the likes of Adrian Mutu and Kalu Uche to penetrate.
Former French international Florent Malouda marshalled the midfield the way he is normally expected to, often providing the passes to the men upfront and took the two corner shots that led to the goals. Malouda was well supported by Vinicius Ferreira de Souza, Souvik Chakraborty and Seminlen Doungel in the middle of the park.
While the UK-based Adil Nabi got himself onto the scoresheet, his striking partner Robin Singh had his share of chance but could not convert.
It was not a surprise that the hosts went into the break with their nose way ahead of Pune City FC. They started off with the right intention and tested Pune goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharjee in the first minute itself.
Their relentless efforts paid dividends when Nabi broke the deadlock just after the half an hour mark. The West Brom striker got on the end of a Malouda corner to score his first goal for the Dynamos. Malouda’s corner was flicked on by Robin Singh for Nabi, who made no mistake in putting the ball into back of the net and leaving Sushant Matthew, who was later stretchered off after suffering a nasty injury, clueless.
Delhi doubled the lead within five minutes as Edathodia headed in a Malouda corner, and the Pune defence was caught napping.
The visitors had a narrow escape around the half hour mark when Doungel chested down Vinicius’ floater and looked to be on his way, but the experienced Gouramangi Singh made a timely clearance.
Ten minutes ago, there was another chance for Dynamos, as Vinicius played a through for Robin on the left, but the India international’s shot was blocked by Englishman Nicholas Shorey for a corner.
A few second into the game, Malouda made searing run from the left and gave it to Nabi, but Arindam managed to pull off a save.
The visitors made four changes to the starting XI, bringing in Gouramangi Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Wesley Verhoek and Kalu Uche.
Delhi’s marquee manager cum player Roberto Carlos started with Vinicius and Nabi in place of Gustavo Dos Santos and Hans Mulder.