The Islanders register a crucial win against FC Goa in what was a tightly contested affair at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim.
Mumbai City FC secured a 2-0 victory over FC Goa on Saturday, 26th February at the Bambolim. Mehtab Singh’s header and a late strike from Diego Mauricio gave the Islanders the double over their rivals.
Des Buckingham made no changes to his starting line-up. Meanwhile Clifford Miranda made 7 changes. Dheeraj Singh, Leander D’Cunha, Anwar Ali, Saviour Gama, Edu Bedia, Brandon Fernandes and Jorge Ortiz were replaced by Naveen Kumar, Seriton Fernandes, Dylan Fox, Aiban Dohling, Romario, Makan Chothe and Airam Cabrera.
The fixture lived up to its history of excitement, as both sides came close to scoring within the first 15 minutes. It was Goa who threw the first punch, through Romario’s header from inside the box. A long ball from Ivan Gonzalez gave the Gaurs a chance out of thin air. Romario headed it first time, but the ball was well wide of the post.
Goa came knocking yet again and once more it was Romario on the end of it. The opposition won the ball in midfield, and Airam released Romario in space. He made his way into the box, and took a shot which was brilliantly blocked by Mehtab Singh.
Mumbai’s first chance of the game came in the 14th minute through a set-piece, which proved to be a sign of things to come. Cassio’s ball in was cleared and eventually fell to Vignesh. The left-back sent it back in towards Fall, who headed it across to Angulo. El Matador picked his spot and flicked across a looping header aimed towards the top corner. Unfortunately, it was only a fraction too high and it came off the crossbar.
Just a couple minutes later, Goa ended up getting a penalty owing to a goalkeeping error by Nawaz. Airam stood over the spot-kick and aimed it straight down the middle. Nawaz dove to the right, but his outstretched leg kept the ball from going in.
In the 21st minute, Chhangte stood over a free-kick close to the box. His curling effort was well-placed, but Naveen Kumar was equal to it.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 36th minute, through a free-kick. Cassio Gabriel’s immaculate delivery was met by Mehtab in the middle, who had run free from his marker. Our #5 headed it well into the corner, leaving the ‘keeper no chance. Mehtab Singh’s first goal in the ISL put us in front 1-0.
The momentum grew from the Islanders, as we came close to scoring in the following couple of minutes. Chhangte made an emphatic run down the right hand side, and slipped the ball to Cassio. He took a touch and unleashed a venomous shot which came off the post.
Moments later, we found the net once more only for it to be ruled out questionably. Another delightful free-kick from our #43 was delivered straight to El Matador who peeled away from Fox and nodded it in. Somehow, the referee deemed it to be a foul despite Angulo making minimal contact.
Goa’s final chance of the half came in the 42nd minute. The first passage of play saw Gaurs make progress down the right. The ball was eventually played to Devendra, who took the shot from a favorable angle. Vignesh stepped in just at the right time to block the shot and send it out for a corner.
The subsequent corner was aimed towards Dylan Fox who headed it narrowly wide of the left post.
In stoppage time of the first half, Bipin Singh came close to finding the net. A quick counter led to Bipin being released down the left and Naveen Kumar being off his line. Our winger tried to side-foot it into the goal, but the shot wasn’t fast enough and was saved.
During half-time, Mumbai City made one change – Vinit Rai came in for Brad Inman.
The Gaurs started the half well, manufacturing two chances in the beginning. In the 50th minute, they worked the ball into the box after a cleared corner. Princeton chipped the ball into the box, and Devendra helped it on. Ivan latched on to it near the 6 yard area but his volley hit the side netting
A couple minutes later, Goa once again gained some advantage through a well-worked corner. The ball went out wide to Noguera on the left, who played a flat ball to Devendra. He beat his man and took a shot, which kissed the crossbar and went out.
The following minutes saw resilient defending, and a substitution. Chhangte went off for Diego Mauricio.
Close to the hour mark we seemed to score yet again, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Cassio’s cross towards the backpost was headed across by our #17. Rahul Bheke stood in front of an empty net and headed it in easily. However, the assistant referee adjudged Angulo to be offside.
This prompted Vikram Partap’s induction in place of Igor Angulo. The Gaurs also made changes after this bringing on Jorge Ortiz and Sanson Pereira for Dylan Fox and Devendra Murgaonkar.
Later on Muhammad Nemil and Brison Fernandes took to the pitch for Princeton and Makan Chothe. Whereas for us, Cassio was substituted for Raynier Fernandes.
We bagged our second goal of the night in the 84th minute. Vikram’s cross led to some confusion in the Goa defense, which Mauricio capitalized on. He stole the ball from Seriton, and quickly rifled it past Naveen Kumar at his near post. 2-0, and the game was out of reach for FC Goa.
Vikram showed his energy yet again in the 89th minute, after latching intercepting a poor pass, and executing a menacing shot from an acute angle. The man between the sticks was forced into making a save, thus conceding a corner.
The rest of the game was seen out with comfortable spells of possession. The victory puts us into the top 4, a point ahead of Kerala Blasters – whom we face on 2nd March, at the Tilak Maidan Stadium.