Mumbai City FC put in another dominant display against East Bengal FC away from home as they came away with 3-0 win at the VYBK Stadium. The Islanders regain the top spot after this win against the Gold and Red Brigade. Their winning streak has stretched to 5 games now.
Des Buckingham named two changes to his starting eleven from the win over FC Goa. Mandar Rao Dessai replaced Vignesh in the starting eleven. Mourtada Fall came in for Rostyn Griffiths as he returned to the starting lineup. Phurba started in goal; Mourtada Fall partnered Mehtab Singh in central defence. They were flanked by Rahul Bheke and Mandar Rao Dessai. Apuia Ralte partnered the creative Ahmed Jahouh and the effective Greg Stewart in midfield. The Islanders had the familiar duo of Lallianzuala Chhangte on the right and Bipin Singh on the left wing in attack. Jorge Pereyra Diaz led the line on the night.
Mumbai City FC looked to resume their fine run of wins against East Bengal FC as they were returning to ISL action after a 15-day hiatus. They looked to start the game in aggressive fashion to put the Red and Gold Brigade under early pressure.
The Islanders created the first chance of the game in the 4th minute. Chhangte received the ball on the right wing in space after Apuia played him in. He nutmegged the East Bengal defender and broke into the box, but was denied a clear chance at goal. He then passed it back to Greg Stewart who dummied to create space for himself at the edge of the box. The Scotsman then unleashed a low-driven shot that narrowly missed the target as Kamaljit was scrambling across the East Bengal goal.
The Islanders were constantly looking to take the lead and their aggressive approach led to their second chance at the 19th minute of the game. Bipin Singh put in a low cross toward an unmarked Diaz in the centre. The Argentine set the ball up for Stewart with a cushion touch, but Kamaljit charged out to collect the ball before Greg could get a touch on the ball.
In the 22nd minute of the game the Islanders looked to exploit East Bengal’s set piece frailty. Jahouh put a perfect ball into the box from a corner from the right towards a charging Mehtab Singh. He stabbed the ball towards the goal but it went just over the bar as the Islanders looked certain to take an early lead in the game.
East Bengal were looking to counter and exploit the space behind the Mumbai City FC backline but the Islanders were making sure to not get outnumbered in their own defensive third. They were easily able to snuff out every East Bengal chance as Lachenpa was relatively untroubled in the early exchanges of the game.
In the 26th minute, Mumbai City FC made it 1-0 thanks to a composed finish by Apuia. Mandar played the ball to Greg at the edge of the box in space. He saw the late run by Apuia into the box and found him with a clever pass to put him into space inside the East Bengal box. Apuia calmly touched the ball past an on-rushing Kamaljit to make it 1-0 in favour of the Islanders.
Mumbai City FC stole the ball back from the restart as they were not allowing East Bengal FC too much time on the ball.
The Islanders created another clear-cut chance from a corner in the 35th minute of the game. Jahouh this time from the left put in a beautiful ball to the back post of the East Bengal goal. Mourtada Fall had made a smart run towards the ball and got a significant touch on the ball but just went wide of the goal.
As the half was coming to an end the last chance of the first period came in the 43rd minute of the game. Chhangte created an opening for himself as he cut in from the right flank dribbling past three East Bengal defenders and tried to curl the ball into the top left corner. However, Kamaljit acrobatically got to the ball and palmed it away as the scores remained at 1-0 for the Islanders.
Soon after the referee blew for half time, which allowed the East Bengal players some respite as they had endured waves of Mumbai City FC attacks. The scores stayed at 1-0 but The Islanders looked destined to score more goals in the second half of the game.
Stephen Constantine made three changes to his starting eleven before the Gold and Red Brigade took to the field of the second half. He brought on Aniket Jadhav, Eliandro and Souvik for Suhair, Haokip and Kyriakou respectively.
They looked to double their lead early on in the second half as they kept pressing East Bengal from the restart. 5 minutes into the second half they did so thanks to a ferocious shot by Greg Stewart. Jahouh won the ball in midfield and played in Stewart ahead of him. Stewart turned and started running towards goal with the ball at his feet. He unleashed a shot from the edge of the box that was misjudged by Kamaljit as the ball ended up in the back of the net. The scores read 2-0 as Greg Stewart’s shot doubled the Islanders' lead.
The Islanders' unrelenting pressure was constantly causing East Bengal trouble. In the 55th minute of the game a beautiful passing move ensued for the Islanders. Bipin got the ball on the left side of the box after the game was constructed expertly by the Islanders. The Islanders’ record goal scorer then put in a low cross across goal that was narrowly missed by Diaz who slid in to get a touch on the ball to make it 3-0 but he failed to do so.
In the 59th minute however the Islanders made it 3-0. Another intricate passing move by the Islanders, that saw a quick one-two between Bipin and Chhangte on the right led to Bipin driving inside the East Bengal penalty box unchallenged. He smartly played the ball to Diaz who played it across to Apuia. The prodigious Indian midfielder then dummied to create space for himself and calmly slotted the ball into the East Bengal goal to make it 3-0 for the Islanders.
Coach Buckingham then made a double substitution in the 63rd minute of the game to preserve the energies of his players. He brought on Noguera and Vikram for Jahouh and Chhangte for the last 30 minutes of the game.
The tactical tweaks that Buckingham made seemed to be having an effect as East Bengal was being pinned back into their own half. However, a chance broke for the Gold and red Brigade in the 68th minute of the game against the run of play. They were denied a goal by superb covering from Fall who cleared the ball off the line from a shot by Cleiton.
In the 71st minute, Constantine made another switch as he brought off Mahesh and brought on Tuhin in the hopes of wrestling away some control of the ball from the Islanders in the last 20 minutes of the game.
Buckingham responded with a switch of his own in the 72nd minute as brought on Vinit Rai for Apuia in midfield. Apuia came off as the star of the day for his two exceptionally well-taken goals and his all-round display in midfield. His goal tally for the season now sits at 3 after the double against East Bengal in this game.
The game trudged along from there on as the East Bengal players looked deflated. Whereas the Islanders were happy to keep the ball and carve out chances at will but looked very comfortable with the 3-0 lead.
Buckingham made two final substitutions in the 82nd minute of the game as he looked to see the game out. He brought on Rowling Borges and Gurkirat Singh for Greg Stewart and Jorge Pereyra Diaz.
In the 89th minute Gurkirat got a precious chance from the spot as Vikram was fouled by the East Bengal player in the penalty box. However, the young striker failed to open his ISL account and skied the ball from the spot as the scores remained at 3-0 in favour of the Islanders.
Soon after the penalty miss the referee blew for full time as Mumbai City FC recorded their 5th win in a row as they won 3-0 against East Bengal FC away from home.
Mumbai City FC will return to the Mumbai Football Arena for the next match of the Hero ISL campaign on the 24th of December to take on Chennaiyin FC in an early kick off at 5:30pm.