Mumbai City FC edged past Jamshedpur FC with a score of 3-1 in their Club Playoff clash at the Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri, Kerala on Tuesday.
This victory has sealed a group stage spot for the Islanders in the 2023-24 edition of the AFC Champions League.
It was an end-to-end game with both sides going toe to toe close throughout the 90 minutes. Yet, strikes from Ahmed Jahouh, Alberto Noguera and Vikram Partap Singh were enough to guide Mumbai through. Eli Sabia’s late effort for a Jamshedpur fightback hardly could make an impact.
The Islanders began the match strongly, displaying some fine passages of play. Jahouh was at the heart of all the dangerous attacks. However, Jamshedpur custodian TP Rehenesh managed to keep the scoreline level early on in the game.
Jamshedpur, too, had a couple of opportunities to take the lead. In the 12th minute, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ goal-bound free-kick forced goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa to stretch every muscle in his body and send the ball above the bar.
At the half-hour mark, again, Jamshedpur almost found themselves in the lead. However, Ricky Lallawmawma snapped at the moment and miskicked a fine cross from the corner to hit the side netting.
The referee eventually blew his whistle as the two teams headed into the break with the scoreboard showing 0-0. After switching sides, Mumbai City came back with the same deadly intent in the attacking third forcing saves from Rehenesh.
Finally, the two-time Indian Super League Shield-Winners found the breakthrough after Lallianzuala Chhangte was brought down inside the box by Ricky. Jahouh stepped up to take the spot kick and put his side in the lead with a cool-headed finish in the bottom left corner.
With 20 minutes left on the clock, Des Buckingham and his men doubled their lead. This time, it was Alberto Noguera who found the back of the net with a sublime left-footed volley from the centre of the box.
Jamshedpur showed signs of a fightback, with Ricky once again finding himself in a goalscoring position in the 76th minute. Unfortunately, the full-back failed to correct his earlier error and struck wide off the bar from close range. Nevertheless, minutes later, skipper Eli Sabia headed the ball in from a corner to make it 2-1.
But Mumbai City were in no mood to loosen their grip on the game. They kept marching forward to find their third goal and succeeded in doing so.
Former Jamshedpur man Greg Stewart led a counter-attacking move with just one defender and the goalkeeper at his disposal. The Scotsman passed it to Vikram Partap Singh at the centre of the box and the latter lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper to seal an emphatic victory for his side. (ANI)