Mumbai City FC edged past Chennaiyin FC 2-1 at the Mumbai Football Arena, coming from a goal down thanks to strikes from Lallianzuala Chhangte and Greg Stewart.

Des Buckingham named an unchanged starting XI from the Islanders' win against East Bengal in their previous game. Mandar Rao Dessai and Mourtada Fall retained their place in the starting eleven for the game against Chennaiyin FC. Phurba started in goal; Mourtada Fall partnered Mehtab Singh in central defence. They were flanked by Rahul Bheke and Mandar Rao Dessai. The dynamic Apuia Ralte partnered the creative Ahmed Jahouh and the influential 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 start in their familiar aggressive fashion as they were looking for a goal from the first whistle of the game. Chennaiyin FC were however pressing the Islanders high up the pitch making it hard for the Islanders to string passes in midfield. The Marina Machans were not allowing Mumbai City FC players time to breathe and progress the ball through their midfield. 

Chennaiyin FC’s game plan became apparent in the first 15 minutes of the game. Thomas Brdaric's instructions to his midfield to man-mark Greg who was not being allowed any space to influence the game became the theme of the first half.

The first chance of the game came in the 16th minute of the game after a hard-fought first quarter of an hour. The opportunity to take the lead came the way of Mumbai City FC in the 16th of the game through a corner. Jahouh launched a dangerous ball in from the left corner towards the back post of the Chennaiyin FC goal. Unfortunately, an on-rushing Mourtada Fall could not head the ball into the goal at the back post as his powerful header just went over the bar. 

The next chance of the game came in the 19th minute of the game for the Islanders. An accurate through ball by Diaz into space on the right unleashed Chhangte who swiftly got the ball under his control. Chhangte then cut in from the right and crossed towards Bipin who was back-pedalling into space in the Chennaiyin FC box. The ball reached Bipin, but the record goalscorer for the Islanders failed to get a powerful enough connection on the ball as his shot was calmly collected by Samik Mitra in the Machans’ goal.

Mumbai City FC were slowly getting into their most effective passing rhythm but were struggling to carve out clear cut chances in the first half. The next chance of the game broke the way of the Islanders in the 27th minute of the game. A swift interplay between Diaz, Bipin and Greg saw Bipin find himself in space on the left flank. Bipin then cut inside and unleashed a venomous shot which was palmed away by Samik up in the air. Before the ball hit the ground a charging Apuia tried heading the ball in from just inside the box but his effort was handled by Fallou Diagne in the box. Much to the surprise of everyone in the Arena, the referee waved away the Islanders' protests. The scores stayed 0-0 but the game was slowly coming to life.

In the 34th minute of the game, Chennaiyin FC took the lead. Fall was pressed by Sliskovic, Edwin and Duker as he ended up passing the ball straight to a Chennaiyin FC player right outside the Islanders' box. Duker then received the ball and set up Petar Sliskovic in the box, who calmly slotted the ball into the Mumbai City FC goal to make it 1-0 in favour of Marina Machans.

Chennaiyin FC’s lead did not last for too long though. The Islanders equalised in the 38th minute of the game thanks to a sumptuous volley by Chhangte. A deep free kick by Jahouh was headed back into the centre of the box by Fall with a cushioned header. The ball fell perfectly for an unmarked Chhangte inside the Chennaiyin FC box. The Islanders number 7 then stunningly volleyed the ball in with his weaker foot to pull the game level as the scores read 1-1.

Soon after the first half was brought to a close by the referee as both teams were struggling to create clear cut chances and get into passing rhythm as neither team were able to dominate the first half. 

Coach Buckhingam made a half time substitution as he brought on Vignesh for Mandar Rao Dessai at left-back. The energy of Vignesh provided a much-needed impetus to the Islanders’ game play.

In the 51st minute of the game, the first chance of the second half broke the way of Mumbai City FC. Diaz crossed the ball into Fall who had broken free of his marker. Mourtada Fall tried a spectacular overhead kick from cross but his attempt was wayward as the ball flew over the bar. 

With their next chance of the game in the 57th minute, Mumbai City FC took the lead. An accurate ball on the left flank from Vignesh found Bipin in space. Bipin then put in an inviting low cross into the Chennaiyin FC box from the left towards Pereyra Diaz. The Argentine calmly set the ball up for an on-rushing Greg Stewart with a smart flick. Stewart calmly slotted the ball past Samik in the Marina Machans' goal to hand the Islanders the lead as the scores read 2-1 in favour of Mumbai City FC.

Soon after the Islanders’ second goal, Coach Brdaric made a substitution in the 59th minute to change things up. Sourav Das came off for Anirudh Thapa in the Marina Machans midfield. 

Chennaiyin FC’s substitution made an almost instant impact in the 64th minute of the game. Vincy initiated a counter attack for Chennaiyin FC on the right wing as he carried the ball to the by-line. He then tee’d the ball for Thapa at the edge of the box but his shot went just wide of the goal, as the scores remained at 2-1 in favour of the Islanders. 

In the 68th minute of the game, Chennaiyin FC made a double substitution to add some fresh legs and energy into the game. They brought on Ninthoi and Jiteshwor for Edwin and Prasanth respectively.

In response, Des Buckingham made another substitution in the 69th minute of the game as he brought on Alberto Noguera for Jorge Pereyra Diaz who had put in another phenomenal shift and even set up the Islanders' second goal of the game. Alberto Noguera came on for his 50th appearance in the Hero ISL.

The game from there trudged along in the last 20 minutes of the game but the Islanders were finally looking their dominant best on the field. They were not allowing even a glimpse of goal to the Chennaiyin FC players as Mumbai City FC were keeping the ball expertly. 

Coach Buckingham made a double substitution in the 82nd minute of the game to manage the last 10 minutes of the game. He brought on Vikram Singh and Rostyn Griffiths for Apuia and Greg Stewart respectively.

In the 85th minute of the game, the last gilt edge chance of the fixture broke the way of the Islanders. Noguera turned in midfield to thread a perfect ball through for Vikram on the right side of the box. Vikram got the ball in his control and broke into the box but could not compose himself before taking his shot. His shot went wide of the goal as it flashed across the face of the Chennaiyin FC goal.

Chennaiyin FC made their final changes in the 86th minute of the game as they made a double substitution. Mohammed Rafique and Jobby Justin came on for Ajith Kumar and Vincy Barreto.

The scores remained at 2-1 in favour of the Islanders going into added time at the end of the second half. Coach Buckingham made a final substitution in the 93rd minute of the game as he brought on Gurkirat Singh for Chhangte in attack. Soon after the referee blew the final whistle of the game and the game ended 2-1 as Mumbai City FC extended their unbeaten run to eleven games.

Mumbai City FC will take on Odisha FC away from home on the 2nd of January and the game will kick-off at 7.30pm IST.