Pune FC came from behind to hold Salgaocar to a 1-1 draw in the Airtel I-League played at Duler Stadium, Mapusa here. The draw keeps Salgaocar at the top of the table with 18 points from nine matches, while Pune FC, who have played one match less than Salgaocar, are following the leaders one point behind.
Salgaocar started well and took an early lead in the 4th minute through Darryl Duffy, capitalising on the error from left back Gurjinder Kumar, who back-headed the ball to his goalkeeper with Duffy lurking in the area.
The Scottish striker pounced on the loose ball, controlled it and beat keeper Amrinder Kumar before tapping the ball into the net.
The early setback put Pune FC into the backfoot as Salgaocar went on attacking from the flanks and came close to increasing the lead on few occasions, but defender Gurjinder Kumar made amends to his early lapse by blocking Duffy and Francis, shot from close.
Salgaocar, enjoying better ball possession in the midfield with Francis Fernandes, Gilbert Oliveira and Clifton, combining well as they kept the rival defence under pressure with measured crosses.
Debutant Matthew Foscini made his presence felt towards the end of the first half when he sent a cross from the right to Gnakpa, who relayed the ball to Duffy. The latter set up Oliveira just outside the box, who missed the right post by a whisker.
Pune FC did not get a clear look at the goal with only Riga troubling the rival defence whenever he had the ball with him. But the rival defence stood firm with Augustin Fernandes playing the stellar role in the defence.
Salgaocar continued to attack after the break with rival keeper Amrinder Kumar making good save punching the ball out off Duffy and Clifton Dias shot.
Pune FC, after these close shaves, earned a penalty when Salgaocar's defender Chika Wali brought down Douhou Pierre inside the box and referee Pranjal Banerjee awarded the penalty, which Mustapha Riga converted in the 61st minute.
Two minutes later, Pierre had a chance to put his team ahead but his curler was punched away by keeper Karanjit Singh.
Thereafter, Salgaocar who created more scoring chances pressed hard to find the winner towards the end, but Duffy and Clifton were guilty of missing close chance to deny Salgaocar full points.