KOLKATA: Ajin Tom agonisingly missed from the spot to allow FC Pune City to beat AIFF Elite Academy 7-6 via penalty shoot-out in their U-19 IFA Shield semifinal tie on Thursday.
The match went to penalties after both teams were locked 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes at Mohun Bagan Ground in Kolkata.
After each side had successfully converted five penalties, defender Tom’s effort was stopped by Anuj Kumar in the Pune City goal.
Gani Ahmmed Nigam then stepped up to score and take Pune City through to the final at the expense of a AIFF Academy side who were widely fancied coming into the tournament after winning the U-18 I-League a month ago.
Pune City started the encounter well prepared and enjoyed much of the play in the opening quarter of an hour yet they went behind against the run of play after Namgyal Bhutia converted from the spot in the 13th minute for the only goal of the first half.
At the restart, Pune City showed more hunger as they pinned AIFF Academy to their half and delivering more ball upfront for the strike pair of Gani and Nijwm Muchahary, who troubled their markers.
Pune City were rewarded for their efforts when defender Wungngayam Muirang slotted the equalizer home from Mohammad Yasir’s corner in the 75th minute.
Minutes later, Pune City had a chance to finish off the game when they were awarded with a penalty after Nijwm was fouled inside the box. However, Nijwm’s effort from the spot hit the woodwork and the striker found the side-netting with the rebound.
In the remainder of the game, either teams wasted opportunities to take the match to the shoot-out and it was Pune City side who held their nerve from the spot to go through.
Pune City, who are the only team to win all their matches in the competition, can now look forward to the summit clash against Mohun Bagan on Sunday.