The boys put up a fight tonight, but a strong performance from Delhi Dynamos resulted in a 5-1 win, effectively ending Mumbai City FC's hopes for a spot in the play-offs this season.
Mumbai City FC had an ill-fated start to their must win encounter against an in-form Delhi Dynamos FC side. In an attempt to gain possession, The Islanders, at the blink of an eye, found themselves trailing by a goal in the 5th minute. A perfect cross from Seityasen Singh from the right found Nandhakumar Sekar in the box who gave Delhi an early lead in the first half.
The Islanders did everything possible only to face more resistance from Delhi Dynamos. A brutal challenge also saw David Ngaihte get the first yellow card of the match in the 16th minute as he brought Sanju Pradhan down while tackling from behind.
One yellow card didn’t stop the home team though. In the 18th minute of the game, as Achille Emana took the corner, Delhi’s Edu Moya was clearly seen elbowing Balwant Singh from behind, but the referee didn’t blow his whistle and the hosts were very close to giving away a penalty!
It was in the 29th minute of the game when Pratik Chowdhary left a trailing leg out against sprinting Sanju Pradhan and the referee spotted the foul this time and awarded a yellow card to Chowdhary.
The hosts maintained their domination in the first half and almost doubled their lead in the game’s 38th minute. A loopy cross by Manuel Arana inside the box found Nandhakumar, but he failed to make a proper connection. Much needed respite to The Islanders.
The respite could have transformed into celebration in the 42nd minute of the game as Mumbai had the best chance to score an equalizer. Achille Emana set up a good chance for Sahil Tavora who took a shot that got a deflection off the Dynamos’ custodian and was on its way into the net but Pratik Chowdhary cleared the ball off the goal line and shredded the hopes of Mumbai City FC to score an equalizer before the first-half. The home side led 1-0 at the break, courtesy of an early goal from Sekar.
The second-half started with an attacking change from Alexandre Guimaraes. It all started with the first change from Mumbai City FC as Marcio Rozario made way for Leo Costa. It was not long before the Brazilian midfielder displayed his magic. In the 49th minute of the game a lovely pass by Leo Costa found Balwant Singh in the box, the striker made space took a shot, only to be saved by Xabier Iruetaguena. However, he couldn’t hold on to the ball and the loose ball was converted by Everton Santos with a sliding tap in. It was his second goal against Delhi Dynamos FC sixth of the ISL 2017-18 campaign.
Xabier was called into action once again in the 55th minute of the game, as Balwant Singh’s volley forced him to make a diving save. Kalu Uche replaced Nandhakumar Sekar and in order to maintain the quota of foreign players, their keeper, Xabier was replaced by Arnab Das Sarma. In no time did the Dynamos custodian show his class as he stopped a thunderous strike from Leo Costa that could have easily found the net.
The Islanders showed great momentum from their attack, but failure to convert them hit them right back. In the 74th minute of the game, Mirabaje’s ferocious strike from outside the box found the back of the net, giving Delhi a 2-1 lead. The following course of play had a few yellow cards against the Delhi players. Pratik Chowdhary was shown a second yellow that saw him depart the field leaving the Dynamos with one man short. But soon, Sahil Tavora was soon shown his second yellow card of the night as well and both sides were down to 10-men. He put a tackle on Manuel Arana from behind in the box conceded a penalty. Arana made no mistake in converting from the spot, and ended the dreams of the Islanders with the lead stretched to 3-1.
There was nothing stopping the Dynamos as they stormed past the Islanders defence once again in the 85th minute and eventually making it 5-1 in the first extra minute of added time. Kalu Uche and Lallianzuala Chhangte assured the home team ended on a high note.
With this disappointing scoreline, the Islanders are out of contention to qualify for the play-offs. The focus now shifts to our final league game of the season in Chennai.
The boys travel to face John Gregory's side on Saturday, March 3 and all hopes will be on 3 crucial points and a sealing a potential spot in the top 6 and qualification to the Super Cup.