Mumbai City FC were unlucky to lose the first leg of the highly-anticipated semifinal to Bengaluru FC by 1-0, courtesy of a goal by Sunil Chhetri from a set piece. The Islanders will have to score a minimum of two goals now in the second leg to secure their place in the Final of the 2022/23 ISL season.
Des Buckingham made several changes to his starting eleven that lost to East Bengal at home, as all his first-choice players were fit and available for the 1st leg tie against Bengaluru FC. Rahul Bheke, Mehtab Singh, Apuia Ralte, Greg Stewart and Jorge Pereyra Díaz all returned to the starting eleven. Phurba started in goal; Mehtab Singh partnered Mourtada Fall in central defence. They were flanked by Rahul Bheke and Vignesh in the full-back positions.The prodigious Apuia Ralte partnered the experienced Ahmed Jahouh and the dynamic Greg Stewart in the Islanders midfield. The Islanders had the electric duo of Lallianzuala Chhangte on the right and Bipin Singh on the left wing in attack. Jorge Pereyra Diaz was leading the line for the Islanders against the Blues in this game.
The Islanders started the game very aggressively, they were extremely quick out of the blocks and pushed Bengaluru FC back into their own half from the get go.
Mumbai City FC created the first chance of the game in the 2nd minute of the game. Rahul Bheke received the ball on the right side and played a smart through ball to Greg Stewart ahead of him. Stewart then slowed the game down and played a grounded ball into the box where Bipin was arriving. Prabir Das put in a last-minute challenge to intercept and clear the ball, the game.
The next chance of the game was also created by the Islanders in the 7th minute of the game. Bheke found himself in space as he tricked past a Blues defender on the right flank. He floated an accurate ball towards Vignesh who had made his forward on the opposite flank. He unleashed a superb volley first time from the cross but the ball just went wide of the post, as the scores stayed at 0-0.
The Islanders were creating chances at will in the first 20 minutes of the game. The next chance of the game came in the 12th minute of the game, as Apuia Ralte and Jorge Pereyra Diaz played a cheeky one-two on the edge of the box. Apuia received the ball from Diaz and shot first time but it was blocked by a Blues defender. The loose ball was then picked up by Vignesh on the left flank and he put in an accurate cross towards Greg at the far post who got his head on the cross but could not guide it past Gurpreet in the Bengaluru goal as he comfortably caught the ball to make sure the Islanders did not take an early lead in the tie.
Mumbai City FC were playing some beautiful fluid football but were finding it hard to put the ball back into the net. Their next chance of the game came in the 20th minute of the match. Ahmed Jahouh put in a tantalising ball from the right side towards Jorge Pereyra Diaz, who failed to keep his header on target as it went just wide of the goal.
Bengaluru FC were finding it hard to keep up with the movement and trickery of the Islanders’ players. All 10 Blues outfield players were falling back into their half to maintain their shape.
The Islanders created the next chance of the game in the 38th minute of the match as Bipin received the ball right outside the box on the left side and looked to bend it into the top right corner, but his shot narrowly missed the target.
They created another chance a minute later in the 39th minute as Greg ran with the ball towards the Blues goal while withstanding challenges from defenders. He fed the ball into Jorge Pereyra Diaz in the box who tried putting the ball past an on-rushing Sandhu, who got down right on time to deny the Argentine his 12th goal of the campaign.
Bengaluru FC created their first chance of the game in the 45th minute of the game against the run of play. Javier Hernandez received the ball in the centre of the box and bore down on the Islanders goal. He then played a smart through ball to Roshan on the left wing, who cut inside and released a powerful shot. Phurba got a stern hand to the shot to parry the ball away.
Soon after the referee blew for half time as the scores were level at 0-0 despite Mumbai City FC dominating the proceedings in the first half, the Islanders also looked more likely to score in the first half.
The Islanders started the second half with the same intensity and attacking verve to that of the first half. They were pushing the Blues back into their own half at the start of the second period too.
The first clear chance of the second half came for Bengaluru FC in the 51st minute of the game. Roshan had made his way forward on the left flank and was smartly picked out by a pass by Javier Hernandez. Roshan then made his way to the byline with the ball and put in a grounded ball towards Roy Kishna in the centre of the Islanders box. Kishna tried placing the ball at the first time of asking but Phurba saved the shot from going in acrobatically, as the scores still read 0-0.
Soon after Grayson made the first change of the game in the 58th minute as he brought off Siva Narayanan and replaced him with the emblematic Sunil Chettri.
Bengaluru FC had finally started coming into the game. They created the next chance of the game in the 62nd minute of the game Roy Krishna received the ball on the left flank from Javier in centre. Krishna then played a smart ball with the outside of his foot to find Sunil Chettri in the centre outside the box. Chettri then chipped the ball over the defender to find Hernandez who had made his way inside the box. The Spaniard then brought the ball down and released a shot from an acute angle, which Phurba got down to just in time to make sure the Blues took the lead.
Buckingham soon after made his first substitution of the game in the 68th minute as he brought off Jahouh for Nogeura to rejig the Islanders midfield.
Noguera was having an almost instant impact as Mumbai City FC started controlling the game again. The Islanders then created a chance in the 72nd minute of the game. Chhangte sprinted down on the right flank with the ball and he put in a delicious cross towards the far post. But Prabir Das got back just in time to make sure the ball did not reach an unmarked Bipin at the far post.
In the 75th minute Buckingham made his second change of the game as he brought off Bipin Singh and replaced him with Vikram Partap Singh, Chhangte went to the opposite wing.
Grayson made a double substitution in the 76th minute of the game. He brought off Rohit Kumar and Javier Hernandez for Jayesh Rane and Pablo Paez respectively.
In the 78th minute Bengaluru FC took the lead from a corner kick. Roshan curled in ball towards the front post from the left corner. Sunil Chettri had made a darting run to meet the ball after he lost his marker. The striker got his head onto the ball and guided it into the net to hand BFC a 1-0 lead.
Mumbai City FC made another substitution in the 80th minute of the game. They brought on the prodigious Ayush Chhikara for Apuia Ralte, as Noguera was the only midfielder on the pitch for the Islanders as they were chasing the game in the 10 minutes.
Chhikara and Jorge Pereyra Diaz were playing up top for the Islanders for the last minutes and were looking to combine to find the equaliser. The Islanders created the next chance of the game in the 84th minute. Diaz got the ball on the left flank and put in a delicious cross towards the young Chhikara but failed to generate enough power to put it past Sandhu in the Blues goal.
The next chance of the game also broke the way of the Islanders in the 89th minute of the game as they were awarded a free kick in central position right outside the box. Greg stepped up to take the free-kick and almost found the right top corner with his effort as Sandhu was stretched but the ball just went over the Blues goal.
In added time at the end of the second half Grayson made two substitutions to take the sting out of the game. He brought off Roshan and Roy Kishna and replaced them with Udanta Singh and Prag Shrivas.
The referee blew the full-time whistle soon after as the game ended 1-0 in favour of the Blues, despite Mumbai City FC dominating most of the game. The Blues will go into the second leg with a slender advantage thanks to Chettri’s goal.
The Islanders will take on Bengaluru FC again in the 2nd leg of this semi-final clash on Sunday, March 12 away from home at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, with the game scheduled to kick-off at 7.30pm IST.