East Bengal FC handed Mumbai City FC a 1-0 loss, in the Islander’s final game of the league stage in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday, shortly before they were presented with the ISL League Shield.
Mahesh Singh scored the match’s only goal in the 52nd minute before the Torch Bearers guarded their slender lead to nab their first-ever ISL win over the Islanders.
Ninety minutes away from lifting the league shield, Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham brought in a few new faces into the starting lineup, making four changes. One of these players was Ayush Chhikara who was inches away from nodding the ball into the back of the net from a Bipin Singh cross from the left flank.
At the other end of the pitch, Cleiton Silva and Jake Jervis were constantly looking for an opening in the Mumbai City FC defence. One of the most promising opportunities came when Suhair VP’s cross from the right flank was headed back across goal by Silva before Jervis’ shot flew over the bar.
In the final minute of the first half, Rowlin Borges’ deflected effort came off the upright and that was the Islanders’ best attempt in the opening period.
Seven minutes into the second half, the visitors took the lead. Silva’s low ball from the right was left by Suhair before Mahesh let it run onto his left foot and flashed it past Phurba Lachenpa.
Five minutes later, Chhangte was denied by a brilliant last-ditch diving block from Lalchungnunga. Just six minutes later, another chance came Mumbai City FC’s way when Halen Nongtdu’s acrobatic volley was headed for goal but kept out by Kamaljit.
In the final 15 minutes, Suhair had a couple of chances in quick succession but could not put the game to bed. The winger’s initial shot from the right side of the box was parried straight back into his path by Lachenpa, but his subsequent attempted lob lacked power. Five minutes later, the winger saw another shot from a difficult angle blocked by the keeper.
In the final five minutes, a ball came in from Chhangte on the left flank and flashed across the face of the goal with no one to apply the final touch. The Torch Bearers’ defence faced a barrage of attacks in the closing stages but remained organised to keep their narrow lead intact till the end of the match. It was the first time this season that Mumbai City FC failed to score.
The win saw East Bengal FC reclaim ninth place from Jamshedpur FC. The win gives the Torch Bearers the momentum they needed before concluding their season with the Kolkata Derby on February 25. The league phase has concluded for the Islanders who next show up in the ISL semi-final on March 7. (ANI)