FC Pune City grabbed a point at the death thanks to a wonderful goal from Anibal Rodriguez, a goal that left the Chennaiyin FC manager Marco Materazzi seething. Chennai, the defending champions, were headed towards their third straight victory in ISL 2016, only to see two points go out of the bag courtesy a Rodriguez special at the Balewadi Sports Complex.
Jeje Lalpekhlua had given Chennaiyin the lead in the 28th minute of the game via a strike that could very well be a goal of the season contender once the campaign draws to a conclusion. The India striker showed his physical prowess to outmuscle Eduardo Ferreira for the ball, before producing a wonderful lob over the goalkeeper Bete from outside the box.
That was a goal worthy of winning any match, but substitute Rodriguez would have the final say, finding the back of the net with a nicely-taken free-kick eight minutes from time.
"I am happy with a 1-0 [result, not with 1-1]," Materazzi told reporters. "That's why I am upset because we threw away two points. But overall, we have had a good performance. What happened is that we made three or four stupid fouls that not even kids would have made."
Materazzi felt Chennaiyin were by far the better side as they kept Pune in check in open play. "The way I see it, they had no shots on goal from open play," the Italian added. "They only had two shots on goal from set-pieces. They never had any chances apart from set-pieces."
Antonio Lopez Habas would have liked to see his team pick up all three points on his return to the bench from a four-match suspension, but a point will have to do for now, even if the Spaniard was adamant his team deserved more.
"I am not happy with one point," the former Atletico de Kolkata manager said. "But I am very happy with the performance of the team. They performed like I wanted them to.
"Chennai are the champions of last season. Pune haven't reached the semifinals yet, but today Pune played like champions and we were better. The score was 1-1 and Chennai is a good team, but Pune were a lot better."
Chennaiyin are still in the top four with eight points from five matches, while Pune still have a lot of work to do to make it to the semifinals, having picked up their fifth point in five games.