Mumbai City FC had to settle for a draw against Chennaiyin FC in match 71 of the Hero Indian Super League season 7 at Bambolim. Bart Ogbeche’s 5th goal of the season was cancelled out by Esmael Goncalves’ second-half penalty. The Islanders remained at the top of the points table and extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches.
Jakub and Germanpreet were in the starting XI for Chennaiyin FC. Jackichand Singh started from the bench as Sergio Lobera made three changes in the Islanders playing eleven that defeated SC East Bengal 1-0. Bartholomew Ogbeche, Raynier Fernandes & Hernan Santana all returned to the starting 11.
The tone of the match was no different than how it was when the two sides met last time. A misguided clearance found Thoi Singh only in the second minute of the game. The Chennaiyin no. 11 took his shot from distance but Amrinder made a comfortable save. Chennaiyin FC's top scorer Esmael also had a go two minutes later but once again couldn't beat the diving Amrinder.
The Islanders responded in the 6th min with a perfect delivery from Vignesh, but Raynier failed to find the target from a tight angle. The aggressive play got the better of Enes Sipovic who was the first player to get booked only in the ninth minute of the first half.
Eli Sabia in the 12th minute had the best of the opportunity to put the home side ahead with a header from a corner-kick but failed to find the target as Vignesh did just enough to keep the Chennaiyin Captain in check.
Both sides kept the momentum going and were looking to cash-in even on half-chances they were getting. Vignesh in the 18th minute had one such moment when he spotted Vishal Kaith off his line and went for a cheeky chip from distance but Chennaiyin FC's goalkeeper was lucky that it went over the crossbar.
In the next chance, a brilliant cross from Bipin Singh found Bartholomew Ogbeche in the 21st minute. The Nigerian striker wasn't letting that go anywhere and found the back of the net with a clean header, scoring his fifth goal of the season.
The home side didn't let the opening goal change their mindset and created more chances for an equalizer. Jakub in the 23rd minute had plenty of space to go on his own, instead, he passed it to Chhangte wasting a few seconds and a good opportunity had he tried himself.
Chennaiyin FC were sending plenty of crosses from both directions in the major part of the first half after trailing by a goal, but the Islanders' strong work at the defense didn't let anything get past them as they put bodies on the line every time the home side looked dangerous with the ball.
Mourtada Fall, Hernan Santana, and Ahmed Jahouh had their work done and denied the home side any advantage in the final third. Sergio Lobera’s side went into the break with a one-goal lead.
The stage was set for more attacking football in the second half and Chennaiyin FC kept putting more pressure in the Islanders' half. Fall's header to Chhangte's cross in the 52nd minute found Jerry whose attempt from distance was well off target. Three minutes later, Chhangte from a corner kick found Sipovic who's a header too went wide of the target.
Chennaiyin FC boss Csaba László made the first change of the match in the 58th minute replacing Germanpreet Singh with Edwin Vanspaul. Thoi Singh who was looking in good touch for the home side almost found Memo Moura in the far post in the 59th minute before Ogbeche came to Amrinder's rescue to deny the Brazilian.
The Islanders too had a go in Chennaiyin FC's box and created as many as three decent goal-scoring chances. The best of which came in the 65th minute from the hero of the match Amey Ranawade. His curling left-footed strike was just inches wide of the goal.
The pressure from the home side finally paid off for them in the 75th minute when Jahouh was booked in the box for fouling Jakub. It was a yellow card for the midfielder and a penalty against the Islanders. However, television replays suggested that the Chennaiyin forward had encroached the penalty area before the goal kick was taken. Esmael Goncalves stood up to take the spot-kick and sent Amrinder the wrong way and found the back of the net to equalize in the 77th minute of the match.
The final 10 minutes of play started with a few substitutions from both sides. Bartholomew Ogbeche, Hernan Santana, Bipin Singh, and Raynier Fernandes were replaced by Adam Le Fondre, Jackichand Singh, Cy Goddard, and Mehtab Singh. With more fresh legs, Mumbai City FC looked promising to score in the 87th minute. Cy Goddard attempted to go for the target but his effort was blocked and it found Vignesh who skewed and failed to hit the target.
With both sides pressing for a winner, Chennaiyin FC too made a couple of changes in the 89th minute. Lallianzuala Chhangte and Thoi Singh were replaced by Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev, Rahim Ali. Adam Le Fondre had the final opportunity to win the game in the stoppage time. The Englishman didn't give it all with his left-footed strike as Vishal had no trouble in saving the last chance of the match.
The Islanders will rue the chances to win another 3 points. One error from Mumbai City FC probably was the difference, otherwise, it was a decent game for the table-toppers.
Mumbai City FC will go up against NorthEast United FC on Saturday, January 30, and hope to create a new Hero ISL record for most unbeaten matches (13) in a row.