The first game of Mumbai City FC in the 2022/23 Indian Super League season was a 6-goal thriller against Hyderabad FC as the game ended 3-3. Both clubs showed an undying spirit in the game which had its ebbs and flows as they showcased their attacking prowess.

For the first game of the league season, Des Buckingham put out a positive starting eleven for Mumbai City FC against Hyderabad FC. Phurba started in goal; Mourtada Fall was partnered by Rostyn Griffiths in central defence. They were flanked by Rahul Bheke and Mandar Rao Dessai. Apuia Ralte and Vinit Rai played as the double pivot ahead of the defence. Greg Stewart played in the number 10 position, flanked by Bipin Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte. Jorge Pereyra Diaz played as the lone striker up top.

The Islanders started the game with the same verve and energy they showed in the 2022 Durand Cup. In the opening minutes, they were controlling the ball well in midfield as Hyderabad FC were finding it tough to get a hold of the ball and break Mumbai City FC’s passing rhythm.

In the 5th minute of the game, Apuia’s tenacity led to him expertly intercepting the ball in the middle of the park. He moved the ball forward swiftly to Pereyra Diaz who played it through to Bipin Singh who shot just wide off the Hyderabad FC goal.

Mumbai City FC were finding it easy to control the ball in midfield from the start and looked dangerous every time they went forward. Greg Stwart was constantly finding space right in front of the Nizams' defensive line and was a menace for his marker. He was threading smart balls through to Bipin and Chhangte on the flanks who were looking to exploit space behind the Hyderabad FC defence.

In the 23rd minute, a clearance from Mourtada Fall landed at the feet of Greg Stewart who played a smart ball through to Bipin to initiate a swift counter-attack. Bipin Bipin carried the ball on the left flank as the Hyderabad FC defenders were back tracking. He squared the ball for Diaz from the left, Hyderabad FC’s Chinglensana Singh slid to cut the ball out but ended up putting the ball in the back of his own goal to hand the Islanders a 1-0 lead.

Hyderabad FC were trying to get on the ball from the restart and were finding it hard to penetrate into dangerous positions against a solid Mumbai City FC unit. The Nizams were finding it especially difficult to get the ball to Bart Ogbeche.

The pace of the game slowed down a little from there on out as there were few chances coming the way of both the teams. However, in the 35th minute Fall headed the ball down from a corner to find Vinit Rai who improvised a cheeky header that went just over the Hyderabad FC goal.

Hyderabad FC were getting desperate for an equaliser as they started launching the ball towards the Mumbai City FC goal in the dying embers of the first half. In the added time at the end of the first half Apuia Ralte gave away a soft penalty as he brought down Ogbeche in the Islander’s box. The spot kick was calmly converted by Joao Victor to level the scores that read 1-1 going into the break.

Both teams started the second half dynamically as they looked to take the lead. Hyderabad FC were starting to get in their groove as they looked revitalised after the break.

Soon after the restart in the 51st minute Hyderabad FC took the lead as they made it 2-1 thanks to Halicharan Narzary. He was found by Yasir on the left side of the Mumbai City FC box who was smartly played in by Joel Chianese.

Des Buckingham looked to shake things up as he made a triple substitution in the 56th minute that saw Fall, Pereyra Diaz and Vinit Rai come off, as they were replaced by Jahouh, Mehtab Singh and Noguera respectively.

Hyderabad FC were forced to make a substitution of their own as Joel Chianese had to be subbed due to an injury, he was replaced by Borja in the number 10 position for the Nizams.

Buckigham’s substitutions had injected new life and ideas into the game as Jahouh and Noguera were getting on the ball. Their passing range and creativity were causing Hyderabad FC all kinds of trouble.

In the 67th minute Ahmed Jahouh found Greg Stewart with an incisive pass. Stewart Held off his marker and buried the ball into the far corner of the Hyderabad FC goal to draw the game level for the Islanders as the scores read 2-2.

The game became extremely open from there on out as both teams were chasing that winning strike. Both teams looked dangerous going forward.

In the 76th minute Hyderabad FC were awarded a corner that was headed across the face of the Islanders’ goal to an unmarked Joao Victor who headed the ball in with ease. The Nizams were in the lead again as the scores read 3-2 thanks to Joao Victor’s second of the game.

Immediately after that Sanjeev Stalin was brought on for Mandar Rao Dessai in the 77th minute to add some fresh legs on the flanks.

Soon after Hyderabad FC made a substitution of their own as they got Sahil Tavora on for Hitesh Sharma in their midfield in the 81st minute.

Noguera and Bipin were combining brilliantly since the Brazilian came on in the second half. In the 85th minute fluid combination plays between Stewart, Noguera and Bipin led to an equaliser for the Islanders. Bipin found Stewart at the edge of the Nizams box from the left wing. Stewart shot the ball towards goal but it was deflected into the path of an on-rushing Noguera who tucked the ball past Kattimani to make it 3-3.

Coach Buckingham made one final change as he brought off the prodigious Apuia Ralte for Rowllin Borges in the 87th minute as the Islanders were looking for the winner in dying embers of the game.

The ISL heavyweights were throwing men forward as both clubs were looking for the decisive winner. The last chance of the game came in the second minute of added time at the end of the second half, when Hyderabad FC were awarded a corner. The teasing delivery was powerfully punched away by Phurba.

A thrilling affair ended 3-3 as the champions of the last two editions of the ISL shared points. The Islanders will return to the Mumbai Football Arena for the first time in nearly three years next weekend as we welcome back fans when we take on Odisha FC on Saturday, October 15.