After conceding an early goal Mumbai settled down and looked to match their opponent in attack making couple of good moves and coming close to scoring on couple of occasion. However after holding them off for majority of the game, Mumbai ultimately succumbed to their third consecutive loss in the AFC Champions League campaign.
In a high-stakes encounter against one of the tournament favorites, Al Hilal SFC, Mumbai City FC's Coach Des Buckingham made a couple of strategic adjustments to the starting lineup. With the goal guarded by Phurba, Tiri was brought in to form a formidable partnership with Rostyn Griffiths in the heart of the defense. This defensive reshuffle saw Mehtab Singh shift to the right, while Akash Mishra assumed his usual position as the left-back.
In the midfield, the reliable trio of Apuia, Yoëll van Nieff, and Greg Stewart took their positions, orchestrating the team's movements. On the attacking front, Vikram was entrusted to replace Bipin Singh, Chhangte held his position on the left flank, and the ever-dangerous Jorge Pereyra Díaz led the attack.
As expected, Al Hilal SFC came out of the gate with full force. Saud AbdulHamid on the wings created an early opportunity, beating Mishra and sending in a cross to Mohamed Kanno, who narrowly missed the target. Moments later, Al Burayk attempted a long-range shot from 35 yards, easily handled by the vigilant Lachenpa.
In the 5th minute, Al Hilal found the breakthrough they were looking for. Al-Burayk made a daring run into the box and delivered a low cross that found the lethal Aleksandar Mitrovic, who had beaten the offside trap before tapping the ball into the net from close range, leaving the keeper with no chance.
Jorge Pereyra Díaz earned Mumbai a corner in the 9th minute, with Stewart delivering a tantalizing cross that was met by Tiri's head. At the other end, Mitrovic had another attempt from outside the box, but Purbha made a crucial save.
Vikram Singh displayed his skills in the 14th minute, winning the ball in the center of Al Hilal's half. He then managed to beat his marker with a sharp cutback, creating space for a shot. However, the keeper was equal to the task, making a save to keep his team in the lead.
In defense too, the Islanders started to find their rhythm, with Mehtab and Tiri making some crucial interceptions inside the box to thwart Al Hilal's attacks. The 20th minute saw a contentious moment when Al Hilal’s no. 29 Salem Al Dawsari made a run into the box, seemingly taking the ball out of play. However, while the Mumbai defence relaxed the linesman's flag stayed down, and Al Dawari took advantage of the situation and scored the goal. However, VAR eventually ruled it out, maintaining the score at 1-0.
Apuia, in the 29th minute, nearly brought Mumbai City FC level with a spectacular effort. A delightful free-kick from Greg Stewart found Apuia inside the Al Hilal SFC box. Apuia showcased exceptional ball control with a brilliant first touch and then a second to beat his marker before unleashing a powerful shot that required a brilliant save from Al Hilal's keeper, Al Owais.
The first half continued to be action-packed with Mumbai City FC displaying growing confidence. In the 34th minute, Mumbai had a promising counter-attacking opportunity. Mishra's clearance found Diaz, who held the ball before laying it off for Vikram to make a run forward. However, Al Boleahi lunged forward, brought down Vikram, and stopped the attack, earning himself a yellow card. Chhangte at the other end made some darting runs on the wings and delivering couple of good crosses.
The first half ended with Mumbai City FC finding themselves trailing by one goal to Al Hilal SFC.
Al Hilal started the second half with a sense of purpose, launching an early attack. Al-Dawsari delivered a cross that found the head of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who sent the ball wide.
Mumbai City FC responded with a quick counterattack that saw Jorge Pereyra Diaz fouled by Kalidou Koulibaly, earning the latter a yellow card. Mumbai then escalated their attacking efforts, with both Chhangte and Stewart creating couple of attacks on the wings, but both were flagged offside.
In the 58th minute, Al Hilal was awarded a corner, and Rúben Neves' delivery found Kanno's head, narrowly missing the target. Salem Al-Dawsari continued to be a menace, making a darting run into the box and cutting the ball back across the box. An onrushing Malcom's strike was deflected wide, keeping Mumbai in the game.
Coach Des Buckingham made strategic substitutions in the 60th minute, introducing Nasser El Khayati and Bipin Singh to spice up the attack and seek an equalizer. In the 62nd minute, Diaz earned Mumbai a free-kick, and Greg Stewart delivered a dangerous ball to the far post. Rostyn Griffiths' header, however, went wide of the target.
In the 66th minute, Al-Burayk delivered a curling cross into the box, which Aleksander Mitrovic powerfully headed into the net, extending Al Hilal's lead to 2-0. Mumbai had quick response with Greg Stewart laying it off for Chhangte at the edge of the box, but his attempt at goal is saved by the keeper
In the 75th minute, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic headed home the third goal for Al Hilal off a cross from Saud Abdulhamid, making it 3-0. This was followed by Aleksander Mitrovic completing his hat-trick with a brilliant overhead kick in the 79th minute, following a looping cross over the defense from Saud.
In the 82nd minute, Al Dawsari cut the ball back in the Mumbai box, and Mitrovic laid it off for Al Burayk, whose right-footed shot found the net, extending the lead to 5-0. In the dying moments of the game, Al Malki unleashed a powerful shot from 30 yards out. The ball hit the bar and turned into the net, marking the sixth goal for Al Hilal.
The second half was defined by Al Hilal's dominance, courtesy of Mitrovic's exceptional hat-trick and a late flurry of goals. Despite their efforts, Mumbai City FC couldn't mount a comeback, and the final score stood at 6-0 in favor of Al Hilal SFC. Mumbai will regroup and return home looking to shrug off this loss when they take on Hyderabad FC on 28th October at the Mumbai Football Arena.