Pune, April 21 (IANS) Pune FC played gracious hosts on Tuesday as they let in two first-half goals to defending champions Bengaluru FC who thus tucked into third place in the Hero I-League standings.
Goals by Shankar Sampingiraj in the very first minute and C.K. Vineeth (43rd) set up Bengaluru's seventh win in 14 outings that took their tally to 25 points, just behind Mohun Bagan (28 from 13) and Royal Wahingdoh (26 from 15) in the I-League table.
Bengaluru coach Ashley Westwood gambled by benching skipper Sunil Chhetri for Sampingiraj while Vineeth came in for the suspended Robin Singh. The changes bore rich fruits for the visitors.
Pune FC did most of the running, but just could not break the Blues defence where goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte had a good game with a few top saves.
Bengaluru FC had a great start as Eugeneson Lyngdoh crossed to Sampingiraj who slotted the ball in to give his team the upper hand straightaway.
Thereafter, Pune created a few good chances and nearly equalised in the 16th minute when the Blues defenders lapsed, but Lalramuaha sent the ball across the face of goal when well placed to score.
The visitors went 2-0 ahead when Vineeth slipped through the Pune defence after exchanging a one-two with Beingaiccho Beikhekhei and sent the ball crashing into the goal off the underside of the crossbar.
On resumption, it was Pune who saw more of the action, but as in the first-half, their finish left a lot to be desired while the Blues replied in kind by muffing a few chances.
Chhetri, who came off the bench in the second session, could have scored, but his free-kick from outside the box drifted wide with goalkeeper Amrinder Singh out of position.
The Blues kept possession for most of the second-half to play out the time and leave Pune FC, who slid to their fourth defeat in 15 matches, a frustrated lot.