Pune: Table-toppers Bengaluru FC and FC Pune City played out a listless draw in the first leg of their semi-final at the Shree Chhatrapati Sports Complex on Wednesday after both teams failed to capitalise on goal-scoring chances throughout the course of the game.
FC Pune City goalkeeper Vishal Kaith collects the ball during the first leg of semi-final 1 clash against Bengaluru FC. ISL
Bengaluru entered the match as favourites, but it was hosts Pune who left the pitch frustrated after dominating the midfield and attack for the major part of the tie in Balewadi. However, Pune coach Ranko Popovic said he was satisfied with his team's effort against a quality side like Bengaluru. "I am satisfied. I hope I will be happy on Sunday night (after the second-leg). Neither team wanted to make a mistake and lose the advantage. I have seen so many good matches but I have to say this game had quality and was competitive for both the teams. It was interesting," said Popovic.
Despite creating so many chances in both the halves, it was surprising to see Pune fluff their lines in the final third on multiple occasions. "We have to be ready for everything (in the second leg). What we have to do is score goals, what we want to do is score goals and win the game there. Both teams will want to score goals," he added.
ISL introduced the away-goal rule this season and Rankovic's Pune stand a chance to make use of that when they travel to Bengaluru on 11 March. Pune have performed well away from home and even held The Blues to a 1-1 draw at their own turf during the league stage. "We did not want to be better in away games, we wanted to be good both home and away. We have to be smart, today (Wednesday) was a smart game. When we play like a team, we are really good and competitive and we can beat everyone," he explained.
"I am satisfied with the performance, not the result. Today, our work was very hard but very good. We don't have to change too much, we only have to believe in ourselves," the Serbian coach added.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru coach Albert Roca too was satisfied with the result at the Balewadi Stadium and feels that the draw was a fair result. "I am satisfied. Of course, I am not happy. They have shown that they are a very tough and compact team. But now we will play at home now and it is in our hands. We have to keep going," said the 55-year-old.
"We managed to create two good chances through set pieces but we could not score. The game was full of caution considering all the hardwork we have put in. Nobody wanted to make a mistake and concede. Perhaps it was a very tactical game today. A draw was quite fair I feel," he concluded.
The second leg of the semi-final will take place on 11 March at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru where Pune will have to convert their chances into goals if they are looking to cement their place in the final. But it won't be an easy task to vanquish Bengaluru at their fortress.