Extending their winning record against ATK Mohun Bagan from last season, Mumbai City FC outplayed the Mariners in a 5-1 rout at the Fatorda on Wednesday.
While it was the games against ATKMB that won them ‘The Double’ last season, it was Vikram’s double that won the Islanders the game tonight. That, along with goals from Igor Angulo, Mourtada Fall and Bipin Singh proved to be instrumental in an outstanding team performance.
The starting XI saw two changes in Mandar Rao Dessai coming in for Mohamad Rakip, and Vikram Pratap Singh come in for Raynier Fernandes. ATKMB’s starting XI remained the same from their previous game
The first few minutes of the game were understandably nervy, but much like the previous game, an early goal opened up the floodgates. Staying true to their philosophy of possession, the roots of the goal began from the backline. A driven low cross by Bipin, and a moment of cunning from Igor Angulo invited Vikram to run on to the ball and smash it past Amrinder’s legs in the 4th minute of the game. What followed was the teenager’s trademark celebration - a slap on the thigh and a finger raised in the air, something the fans and the rest of his team-mates were eagerly waiting to see.
From then on, it was just one-way traffic. So much so, it wasn’t until the 21st minute that the Mariners got their first shot of the game.
Only three minutes later, the Islanders managed to cap off an 18 pass move to make it 2-0. ATK Mohun Bagan were lured into pressing early, only for Cássio to produce a moment of brilliance and find Bipin. Just like his first, Vikram found the net yet again from a cross aimed at the far post, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.
Heads had started to dip, and fouls started becoming frivolous. The first yellow card of the game came in the 31st minute, when Deepak Tangri caught Apuia in a late tackle.
Igor Angulo added to their misery in the 37th minute, scoring from Fall’s header after a delightful cross from Mandar. The enigmatic Spaniard peeled away expertly from McHugh and made enough space for himself to tap it in from close range.
The first half ended with 6 shots on target for Mumbai City, and none for their counterparts. In an effort to shift the tides, Antonio Habas made two substitutions at half-time. He subbed off Hugo Boumous and Liston Colaco for David Williams and Prabir Das.
Unfortunately for him, within the first minute of the second half, Deepak Tangri was given his marching orders for lashing out at Vikram Pratap with his left arm. This very foul also gave way to the Islanders’ 4th goal – a classic Jahouh ball from midfield, comfortably headed in by Mourtada Fall at Amrinder’s near post.
Des Buckingham’s side’s final goal of the night came in the 51st minute, as Bipin latched on to a wayward pass from Lenny Rodrigues. A quick one-two with Igor Angulo ensued, and the Manipuri was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. A thundering finish past Amrinder Singh gave the Seven Island faithful a scoreline for the ages – ‘5-0’.
ATK Mohun Bagan soon started fighting back, creating chances of their own. They came close to scoring in the 55th minute, when Manvir found himself through on goal after a counter attack. Unfortunately for them, he shot it well over the bar, troubling none but the ball-boy.
However, only four minutes later David Williams was able to pull one back for the Mariners. A misplaced pass during build-up was intercepted by Joni Kauko who passed it to David Williams. A thundering shot from outside the box found its way into the bottom right corner.
The remainder of the match saw some close calls with Amey Ranawade and Ygor Catatau nearly adding to the scoreline. There were also two debuts in blue - Brad Inman and Gurkirat Singh took to the pitch, replacing Cássio Gabriel and Bipin Singh.
The Islanders continued to play fiercely, pressing and going forward until the very last minute. So much so, that the last kick of the game was a Gurkirat Singh rocket, which demanded a save from Amrinder Singh.
The historic result sees Des Buckingham’s men climb up to top spot on the table, with 6 points. They take on Bengaluru FC on Sunday, December 4 at 9.30 pm in an away game at the GMC Bambolim stadium.