Mumbai City FC secured their first win of the 2022/23 Indian Super League (ISL) season, with a 2-0 win over Odisha FC in what was the first game at the Mumbai Football Arena in nearly 3 years. An exciting affair ensured in which Mumbai City FC scored 2 decisive goals thanks to their front line of Stewart, Chhangte and Bipin, who made the difference.
After a thrilling draw against Hyderabad FC, Coach Des Buckingham made changes to the XI that played tonight's landmark game. Phurba started in goal, Mehtab Singh replaced Fall as the partner for Rostyn Griffiths in central defence. They were flanked by Rahul Bheke and Sanjeev Stalin who started ahead of Mandar Rao Dessai. Apuia Ralte was partnered by the dynamic and creative pair of Alberto Noguera and Ahmed Jahouh, the latter making his 50th appearance for the Islanders as he took to the field against Odisha FC. Greg Stewart played upfront and was flanked by Lallianzuala Chhangte and Bipin Singh on either wing.
The entire stadium was buzzing at the start of the game as crowds returned to the stands for the first time in 2 years for an Indian Super League game in Mumbai. The Islanders started the game by scoping out Josep Gombau's side. Both teams that follow a similar philosophy were battling for the ball as they were looking to dominate possession in the early stages of the game.
The first chance of the game went the way of the Islanders in the 6th minute of the game. Noguera found Bipin on the left wing with a pin-point pass. Bipin's low cross that was squared into the centre of the box was greeted by no one, as the ball was cleared to quell the danger Mumbai City FC were posing in the opening minutes of the game.
The next chance of the game was created by Odisha FC in the 12th minute, when Sarangi, the full-back of Odisha FC charged forward and tried his luck from distance, but the shot was bravely blocked by Mehtab Singh. The scores read 0-0 as the game was turning into a midfield battle.
The game, despite being evenly poised, was slowly tipping towards the visitors, Odisha FC in the first half as they were looking to pile on the pressure on the Islanders. Both clubs were looking to use their electric wingers, who looked dangerous every time they carried the ball forward on the flanks.
In the 38th minute, Nandha Kumar cut in from the wing and drove the ball towards the goal with a powerful low shot that was comfortably dealt with by Phurba Lachenpa. The scores still read 0-0 as the game was becoming a gruelling tactical battle.
Odisha FC were doing a great job at keeping the influence of the dynamic Greg Stewart to a minimum as he was constantly being hounded by the Odisha FC defenders, not giving him any room to breathe especially when he was dropping deep to get on the ball.
In the 44th minute, Diego Mauricio managed to get past the Mumbai City FC defenders as he carried the ball into the box. However, his powerful shot went wide and could only find the side-netting. The possession in the first half was dominated by the Kalinga Warriors and looked slightly more dangerous than the Islanders in the final third.
Soon after the referee blew the whistle to bring an end to the see-saw battle in the first half, as both teams were looking desperately for the goal that would hand them the lead. They went into the half-time break as the scores read 0-0.
The Islanders started the second half explosively as in the 48th minute, Jahouh found Bipin on the left wing with a smart pass. Bipin then delivered a low ball into the box that found Chhangte who failed to capitalise as his shot went above the goal.
The Mumbai City FC players looked revitalised after the half-time break and were passing the ball with verve and accuracy.
In the 50th minute, Chhangte zoomed past the Odisha FC defence to carry the ball forward to play a smart one-two with Noguera. After receiving the ball back from the Spaniard, Chhangte dribbled past an Odisha FC defender and fired a shot right at Amrinder. However, the goalkeeper’s save ricocheted back off of a recovering Sarangi towards goal which handed the Islanders the lead through an own-goal. The scores read 1-0 as Mumbai City FC took the lead in front of the raucous home crowd.
From the restart, Odisha FC started looking for an equaliser desperately as they were throwing men forward, which allowed Greg Stewart some space to showcase his talent as his influence on the game grew.
The next chance of the game however broke the way of Odisha FC. In the 58th minute, Odisha FC were denied the equaliser due to an excellent save by Phurba Lachenpa, who palmed away a powerful shot by Mauricio from inside the Islanders penalty box.
In the 67th minute, Des Buckingham made two changes to inject fresh ideas into the game. He brought on Vinit Rai and Pereyra Diaz for Ahmed Jahouh and Apuia Ralte respectively.
Odisha FC responded with their own double substitution in the 68th minute as Pedro Martin and Narender replaced Osama and Jerry respectively.
The Odisha FC replacements were having an instant effect on the game. In the 74th minute, Saul tricked his way past Odisha FC defenders inside the box and found Thoiba Singh, whose powerful shot was wayward and went wide. The score still read 1-0 as the Mumbai City FC’s defence looked resolute to keep a clean sheet.
In the 78th minute, Joseph Gombau made another double substitution as he brought on Victor and Isak for Saul and Nandha for the Kalinga Warriors. Soon after Coach Buckingham made a double substitution of his own as he brought on Vignesh for Sanjeev and Vikram replaced Chhangte in the 79th minute of the game.
In the 82nd minute, both Vikram and Vignesh combined brilliantly to carve out a chance for the Islanders. Vignesh crossed the ball from the left with pin-point accuracy to find Vikram at the edge of the box. Vikram then took a powerful low shot which produced an acrobatic save from Amrinder to make sure the score stayed at 1-0.
The Islanders were keeping the ball well, to make sure Odisha FC were not able to carve out a goal-scoring chance.
The game was put to bed in the 4th and final minute of added time at the end of the second half, as Bipin doubled Mumbai City FC’s lead. A beautiful counter attack orchestrated by Greg Stewart, who burst into the box and found Bipin completely unmarked. Bipin then composed himself and drove the ball into the bottom left corner to make it 2-0 for the Islanders. Bipin scored his 16th goal in the Islanders' colours, making him the all time leading goalscorer in the history of Mumbai City FC.
The game soon came to an end with Mumbai City FC registering a 2-0 victory against Odisha FC to hand them their first win of the 2022/23 ISL season. The Islanders return to the Mumbai Football Arena in a weeks' time on October 22 to face Jamshedpur FC.