Match Report - Mumbai City FC 2-0 Bengaluru FC
Victory at the fortress - check, victory at the Arena - check!
The Islanders became the first team ever to do the double on Bengaluru FC after our record top scorer Modou Sougou and our top goal scorer this season Amine Chermiti scored on either side of the half. Jorge Costa named a strong line up for this must-win fixture with Sourav Das replacing Raynier Fernandes and Diego Carlos taking the suspended Serge Kevyn's spot on the wing.
The match started in a fiery fashion as both sets of players were guilty of some rash challenges. The visitors had more of the ball in the early stages of the match as Aashique ran through our defenders only for his shot to be deflected for a corner in the 11th minute.
The biggest moment came in the 13th minute after Rowllin Borges put in a delightful lob for the charging Modou Sougou into the box who headed into an open net after a confusion between Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and his defenders after the goalkeeper rushed to punch the ball away from danger. Sougou scored his 3rd goal of the campaign as the Arena erupted. Rowllin who was involved in a couple of rash tackles was the star of the move with a pin-point assist for the goal. The goal propelled the Islanders to strenghthen their defence and pass it around with brilliant accuracy.
On the 21st minute another big chance was presented to Modou Sougou after Diego Carlos' effort from a distance was deflected and the ball lobbed right in front of Sougou who was one on one with Gurpreet but his shot did not have the power he expected and the Bengaluru keeper saved it for a corner. The Islanders controlled the match quite well, not allowing Bengaluru FC to play their usual game by disrupting their flow with crunch tackles.
Electric on the wing, Diego Carlos had been a menace for Rahul Bheke. It was the 35th minute of the match as our Brazilian winger ran through their defence and took a powerful shot from a distance only for Gurpreet to handle it over the bar. The visitors did have some slight chances after Erik Paartalu's header went over the bar after Aashique had missed an earlier half chance by fluffing his shot wide
The game threatened to boil over in the 42nd minute after Dimas Delgado's challenge on Rowllin Borges angered our midfielder who later went on the pick up the Hero of the Match award. Both sets of players clashed with Sarthak Golui also getting involved in the heated debate. A lot of the first half was played in the midfield and a lot of challenges were being put as the referee kept the cards in his pocket.
The Islanders were rightly denied a goal after Subhasish's headed goal was chalked off for offside on the 44th minute. The visitors had a similar moment at the end of the first half after Sunil Chhetri's goal was ruled out by the linesman. The scoreboard read 1-0 to the hosts at the whistle after a battling display in the first half.
The second half began and Bengaluru FC made their first change of the night after Udanta Singh came on for M. Onwu as Carles Cuadrat tweaked his tactics a bit with Aashique starting in the centre along with Udanta and Chhetri on the wings. It was a fiery start after the break as Nishu was the second Bengaluru FC player booked. On the 51st minute, Rahul Bheke took a long throw which was cleared to as far as Udanta's head who headed it over the bar. After booking two Bengaluru FC players, the referee booked Islander Diego Carlos for elbowing Albert Serran as both players battled for the aerial ball.
On a yellow card, Carles Cuadrat took off defender Nishu Kumar and replaced him with another attacking player with Eugeneson Lyngdoh coming on.
The Arena erupted yet again in the 55th minute after another long ball from Rowllin Borges created havoc in the Bengaluru box as Harmanjot Khabra headed it straight into the path of Amine Chermiti. Our Hitman kept his cool to finish it to double the lead in spectacular fashion and buy some breathing space. The Tunisian scored his 5th goal of the season and also his second goal at the Arena. This was the first match where both the forwards, Sougou and Chermiti got on the scoresheet together. The pressure rose on the visitors which forced them to make mistakes and the Islanders could have tripled the lead after Mohamed Larbi's powerful shot was parried away by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for a corner on the 57th minute, just two minutes after the second goal.
Bengaluru made their third change of the night as Deshorn Brown Sr. took Khabra's place in search of a goal. With the game reaching a crucial stage, Mumbai City strengthened their hold on their lead by defending deep and not allowing any free space to the Bengaluru attackers.
Another chance was presented to Amine Chermiti by Modou Sougou after his brilliant cross was just out of reach of the diving Tunisian in the 71st minute. With so many chances the Islanders played a perfect match to frustrate and stifle Bengaluru FC whose captain Sunil Chhetri was booked on the 79th minute for dissent. The opposition skipper lost his cool after Rowllin Borges brought down Udanta Singh but was not booked for his challenge. Chhetri put in a dangerous cross in the 83rd minute but Udanta could not turn it in leaving the Islanders' lead intact going into the final moments of the match.
Boss Jorge Costa made his first change of the night on the 85th minute after the second goal scorer Amine Chermiti came off for Raynier Fernandes. With the match heading to its climax the referee added 4 minutes which did not stop Costa from making his remaining two substitution as Mohamed Larbi and Modou Sougou going off for Bidyananda Singh and Bipin Singh respectively.
With the final whistle there were celebrations throughout the Arena as the Islanders came back to winning ways with two brilliant goals to beat Bengaluru FC yet again this season. Bengaluru FC have failed to defeat the Islanders in their past 4 attempts as Mumbai City FC have won 3 out of them and also become the only team to do a league double on the Champions. With this victory the Islanders keep their 5th spot intact with 19 points just two points behind Odisha FC at 4th place.
The Islanders will be brimming with confidence as they travel to Hyderabad to face the last placed team away from home on 24th January.