Last season's table toppers Mumbai City FC were left to rue some mishaps in defence as they suffered a 2-0 reverse in their first game of the 2017-18 Indian Super League. Alexandre Guimaraes and the boys had expected a tricky trip to league newcomers Bengaluru FC but held their own for three-fourths of the game before conceding two goals that could've been avoided.
Fresh from their exploits in the AFC Cup, Bengaluru FC looked the better of the two teams from the outset with the home side launching into attack after testing the ISL waters early on. There were a few uncomfortable moments in the opening quarter hour for the Islanders as towering centre-back Marcio Rozario and his compatriot Gerson Vieira brought down Bengaluru's Miku and Erik Paartalu respectively.
The game slowly settled into a rhythm with Bengaluru having most of the chances while the Islanders were happy to soak the pressure and hit the home team on the break. However, the initial game plan for Alexandre Guimaraes was thrown out of the window when midfielder Leo Costa had to be taken off in the 18th minute after pulling a hamstring, forcing a change in personnel as Achille Emana made his Mumbai City FC debut.
All the while, Bengaluru continued to enjoy their first ISL outing in familiar conditions of the Kanteerava Stadium as their attackers - Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh and Miku - took turns to have attempts at Amrinder Singh's goal. Mumbai City had the best defence last season and that was once again on show until the 67th minute when Raju Gaikwad hit a difficult ball back to Amrinder, leading to a corner from which the Blues opened the scoring.
Mumbai City failed to react to the short corner as Edu Garcia netted his first ISL goal from a low drive from inside the box to leave Amrinder beaten at his near post. The spirited Islanders came back strongly after conceding but their lack of edge in attack proved to be their undoing. There were some good moments in attack when Guimaraes changed tactics in the second half with Emana at the heart of most of them. The intent to get an equalizer was evident after the head coach introduced towering striker Rafa Jorda in place of centre back Marcio Rozario.
Late on in stoppage time, Bengaluru doubled their lead via a Sunil Chhetri strike after some uncharacteristic error in communication between defender Mehrajuddin Wadoo and goalkeeper Amrinder. The former Mumbai City FC man slotted the ball into an open goal to seal the win for Bengaluru.
Despite what was a difficult evening of football for Mumbai City, the season is still young and the expected returns of Balwant Singh and Thiago Santos in the coming days will certainly make for some good reading of the scoreline for the Islanders.
Mumbai City FC will hope to open their account when they entertain FC Goa at their home, the Mumbai Football Arena, on 25th November.