Mumbai City FC registered a deserved 2-0 win against Kerala Blasters FC in their second away game of the 2022/23 Indian Super League season. The two first-half goals by Mehtab Singh and Jorge Pereyra Diaz, and a collective effort in defence saw the Islanders come away with a 2-0 win and all three points.
After a physically gruelling draw against Jamshedpur FC, Coach Des Buckingham named one change to the starting eleven. Phurba started in goal; Mehtab Singh partnered Rostyn Griffiths in central defence. They were flanked by Rahul Bheke and Sanjeev Stalin. Apuia Ralte was partnered with the creative Ahmed Jahouh and the dynamic Greg Stewart who was playing in midfield for the first time this season. Jorge Pereyra Diaz started against his former club and replaced Noguera in the starting eleven for the Islanders. The former Kerala Blasters FC striker was flanked by Lallianzuala Chhangte on the right and Bipin Singh on the left wing in the Mumbai City FC attack.
Both teams started the game well, as they were looking to dominate the ball at the Kaloor Stadium. The similarities between the two coaches' philosophy was an assurance that spectators at home and in the stadium were going to witness highly entertaining fluid attacking football throughout the match.
The first shot of the game came from Apuia for the Islanders in the 4th minute of the game. When Bipin was released into space on the left flank, he played an intuitive clever pass to Diaz in the centre. Pereyra Diaz then tried to pick out an on-rushing Chhangte but the ball deflected into the path of Apuia Ralte who tried his luck from slightly far out, but his shot flew over the Kerala Blaster FC goal as the scores stayed 0-0.
Soon after, the Islanders started to dominate the ball, easily managing to keep the ball away from the Kerala Blasters FC players. The Yellow Army’s tactic for the game became clearer by the 15th minute as they looked happy to relinquish possession of the ball only to exploit the spaces out wide behind the Mumbai City FC defence. They looked to do so with the physicality of Dimitrios Diamantakos and the pace of the dangerous Rahul KP.
Mumbai City FC were dominating the ball and continuously making in-roads behind the Kerala Blaster FC defence due to some slick passing by the Islanders.
Their dominance yielded results in the 21st minute of the game when Mehtab Singh fired the Islanders into a 1-0 lead from a corner kick. Ahmed Jahouh delivered the ball in from a corner kick which was deflected at the front post. Fortunately, it landed at the feet of Mehtab Singh in the centre of the Yellow Army’s box. Mehtab thumped the ball past a diving Gill who had no chance of stopping the strike to hand the Islanders a deserved early 1-0 lead against the home side. Mehtab Singh’s strike was the 50th overall goal of the 2022/23 ISL season.
The Islanders were dominating the ball from the restart and doubled their lead in the 31st minute thanks to a composed finish by Pereyra Diaz.
Greg Stewart made his way forward to receive the ball right outside the Kerala Blasters FC box. The Scotsman tried playing in Diaz who miscontrolled the ball, causing it to deflect towards the defender who then attempted to stop the attack. However, Pereyra Diaz showed his resolve to get on the scoresheet as he bravely stuck his foot in to steal the ball off of the Kerala Blasters FC defender. Diaz broke into space inside the opposition's box unchallenged and calmly slotted the ball in the goal to double the Islanders lead as the scores read 2-0.
After the restart the Kerala Blasters FC players were jolted into action as their passes had a little more intent as they looked desperate for a goal scoring chance. But the Islanders continued dominating the ball with ease. They were finding it easy to carve out chances against a shell-shocked Kerala Blasters defence who were finding it hard to contain the Islanders’ attackers.
Greg Stewart was constantly finding little pockets of space in and around the Kerala Blasters FC box. The Scotsman played in Bipin on the left in the 42nd minute, who crossed the ball towards the centre to find Pereyra Diaz. He latched onto the ball and shot, but his powerful strike was just wide of the Kerala Blasters FC’s goal as the Islanders looked to go 3-0 ahead before the end of the first half.
The last chance of the first half was created by Kerala Blasters FC in added time at the end of the half. Dimitrios Diamantakos released Rahul KP into space on the right side of the Islanders’ box. He took a powerful shot that forced Phurba Lachenpa into making a save from a tight angle.
Soon after the referee blew for half-time as the Islanders went into the break with a deserved 2-0 lead against a disjointed Kerala Blasters FC.
As the teams came onto the field for the second half of the game the crowd inside the Kaloor Stadium looked to get behind the faltering home side to help them chase the 2-goal deficit.
Mumbai City FC started the second half in similar fashion to that of the start of the game. In the 47th minute Greg Stewart carved out a chance for himself as he took a powerful shot from outside the box. The strike was dealt with by Gill in the Kerala Blasters FC goal as he safely managed to hold onto the ball.
The next chance of the game broke for Dimitrios Diamantakos in the 56th minute of the game. A loose ball in the Islanders half broke towards the Greek attacker. He carried the ball inside the Islanders box and took a powerful shot which was parried away by Phurba Lachenpa.
Kerala Blaster FC finally looked like they were getting into their groove as they were starting to retain the ball expertly in midfield.
Coach Buckinngham soon after looked to re-energise his midfield as he brought on Alberto Noguera for Pereyra Diaz in the 61st minute. Diaz picked up a slight knock that forced him to come off.
The dangerous Rahul KP orchestrated a chance for Kerala Blasters FC through some silky touches in the 63rd minute of the game. He played in an on-rushing Harmanjot Khabra who unleashed a powerful shot towards the Islanders goal. It was deflected out for a corner kick off of a Mumbai City FC defender to make sure the scores stayed at 2-0.
Ivan Vukomanovic made a double substitution soon after in the 70th minute as he looked to add to the attacking threat his team posed. He brought on Ivan Kalyuzhnyi and Hormipam Ruivah for Victor and Samad respectively.
The substitutions almost yielded an immediate result for the Yellow Army. In the 71st minute Adrian Luna’s shot came off the crossbar and fell for Rahul KP who could not keep his header on target as Phurba stayed untroubled.
The next chance of the game broke for Chhangte and the Islanders in the 72nd minute. The electric number 7 of the Islanders found himself in ample space inside the Yellow Army’s box. Chhangte however failed to sort his feet out in time and could not capitalise on the chance.
Wary of the threat of a resurgent Kerala Blaster FC team, Coach Buckingham looked to make sure that his team kept their clean sheet with a double substitution in the 73rd minute. The English coach brought on Mourtada Fall and Vinit Rai for Apuia Ralte and Ahmed Jahouh respectively. The Islanders altered their shape as they changed to a 5 at the back system to see the game out.
In the 81st minute Kerala Blasters made another change as they brought on Bidyashagar for Puitea to provide more impetus in attack.
Kerala Blaster FC were constantly pushing for goals in the dying embers of the game. Mumbai City FC players however, looked resolute to keep the clean sheet and were making sure that they do not give the home side a clear chance to get back in the game. The Islanders were comfortably able to counter every time as Kerala Blasters threw men forward. The scores read 2-0 going into the final five minutes of regulation time.
Both coaches made double substitutions in added time at the end of the second half. The Islanders brought on Gurkirat Singh and Vikram Partap Singh for Chhangte and Bipin respectively. While the Yellow Army brought on Bryce Miranda and Saurav Mandal for Rahul and Luna respectively.
Soon after the game ended as the Islanders recorded a deserved 2-0 win against Kerala Blaster FC at the Kaloor Stadium, thanks to two early goals. Mumbai City FC went second in the league table after this win, right behind league leaders Odisha FC.
Mumbai City FC will welcome ATK Mohun Bagan in their next game 2022/23 ISL game on the 6th of November at the Mumbai Football Arena.