Mumbai City FC drew with Hyderabad FC at home in a game that ended 1-1. It was a physically gruelling game for both teams as they kept pushing for the victory till the final whistle of the game.
Des Buckingham made three changes to the starting eleven that won against Jamshedpur FC away from home.Vignesh replaced Mandar Rao Dessai in the starting eleven. Alberto Noguera and Rostyn Griffiths started in midfield in place of Greg Stewart and Ahmed Jahouh. Phurba started in goal; Mourtada Fall partnered Mehtab Singh in central defence.They were flanked by Sanjeev Stalin and Vignesh in the full-back positions. The prodigious Apuia Ralte partnered the creative Alberto Noguera and the versatile Rostyn Griffiths. The Islanders had the prolific 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 Hyderabad FC. This was Des Buckingham’s 50th game on the sideline for the Islanders as head coach. Youngster Halen and the exciting Hardik were named on the bench for this game.
Mumbai City FC started the game on the front foot as they were looking to control the possession. Hyderabad FC however were pressing the Islanders well and not allowing them to dominate possession in the opening minutes of the game. Both sets of midfield were looking to control the tempo of the game and were showing great intensity without the ball.
After the first 10 minutes of the game both teams were slowly starting to get into their passing rhythm. The Islanders especially were starting to dominate possession and were getting into dangerous positions.
In the 19th minute of the game the Islanders carved out the first clear chance of the game. Rostyn carried the ball from midfield while protecting the ball expertly. He then found Chhangte with a smart ball on the right wing in space. Chhangte then played a quick 1-2 with Apuia to break into the box with the ball. The Islanders number 7 was not able to keep his shot down from the cut-back. The scores read 0-0, as Mumbai City FC looked more likely to take the lead.
In the 22nd minute of the game Mumbai City FC were awarded a penalty. After some excellent work between Jorge Pereyra Diaz , Chhangte and Apuia on the right wing, Chhangte broke towards the byline with the ball while brushing off challenges from Hyderabad FC players. He put in a dangerous cross towards Bipin on the far post from the right. Bipin headed the ball towards the goal and it was heading in but Nikhil Poojary raised his arm to block the ball illegally. The referee awarded a penalty straight away and branded a yellow card towards Nikhil. Jorge Pereyra Diaz stepped to take the penalty. He smashed the ball into the roof of the net to make it 1-0 in favour of the Islanders as they took a well deserved lead.
Hyderabad FC players were charged up after going behind as their passes after the restart had much more intent and were a lot more penetrating.
In the 31st minute of the game an excellent pass by Nikhil found Yasir on the right wing. He put in a cross that went over everybody and flashed across the face of the Islanders goal. The Nizams however recycled the ball well and were looking to put in a cross this time from the opposite flank. Danu faked and played a grounded ball to Yasir who had made his way to the edge of the box. The Hyderabad FC number 10 hit the ball first time but it was wayward as Phurba watched the ball sail over the goal.
Hyderabad FC were looking for an equaliser desperately before the half-time whistle,but Mumbai City FC defence was resolute not allowing them a clear sight of goal.
In the 43rd minute of the game Hitesh played a long ball towards Rohit Danu who had cut inside and was running into space. Sanjeev Stalin however brought the Hyderbad FC player attacker down cheekily. After which Sanjeev was shown a straight red card as he arguably denied the Nizams a goal-scoring opportunity. But after deliberating with the 4th official the referee overturned the red card and showed Stalin a yellow which seemed fair as he was not sent off.
Soon after the referee blew for half-time as Mumbai City FC went into the break with a well deserved 1-0 lead, thanks to a thumping penalty by Diaz.
Mumbai City FC started the second half swiftly and were dominating possession as Hyderabad FC were looking to hold their shape.
The first chance of the half broke the way of the Islanders in the 55th minute. Bipin found himself in space on the left wing with the ball and played a smart ball to Noguera at the edge of the box. Alberto unleashed a vicious low shot that was blocked by a Hyderabad FC defender.
In the 58th minute Bipin was played in behind the backline of the Nizams by Noguera after he received the ball from Rostyn in midfield. Bipin dummied past the defender and was bearing down on goal from a very tight angle. The record goal-scorer failed to see any options in centre and took the shot trying to catch Gurmeet out on the near post,but he stuck a leg out to make sure the scores stayed at 1-0.
The Islanders got another chance a minute later in the 60th minute. Noguera won the ball expertly in midfield and carried the ball ahead from the centre of the park. He played an accurate through ball towards Chhangte who had made an intelligent run behind the Nizams backline into space from the right. As he was about to get his shot away he was nudged by two Hyderabad FC players and had to get his shot off-balance due to which he could not generate the desired power. The ball was comfortably caught by Gurmeet.
In the 61st minute Manolo Marquez made the first substitution of the game. He brought on Hali Charana Narzary for Rohit Danu hoping to inspire his team to push for the equaliser.
In the 65th minute however the Nizams equalised against the run of play. Hitesh was released on the right wing by Yasir. Hitesh then broke into the box from a slightly tight angle towards goal, he kept his composure and lifted the ball above Phurba to find the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Soon after Buckingham made his first change of the game in the 68th minute of the game. He brought on Rowlin Borges for Stalin as the Scotsman was looking to tweak his tactical setup for the last 20 minutes of the game.
The next chance of the game came for Hyderabad FC in the 70th minute of the game. A cross from the left wing landed on the feet of Yasir on the opposite flank. He laid the ball off for Ogbeche who tried converting the volley but he skied his shot. The scores still read 1-1 as the match was becoming a physically demanding battle.
Both teams were pushing and looking for a goal to take the lead. In the 78th minute Des made his second change of the game. He brought off Pereyra Diaz for Greg Stewart hoping to take the lead.
Immediately after in the 79th minute Hyderabad FC made a triple change. They brought on Abdul Anjukandan, Sahil Tavora and Javier Siverio for Mohammad Yasir, Hitesh Sharma and Joel Chianese respectively.
The next chance of the game came the way of the Islanders in the 83rd minute. A dangerous cross by Bipin from the left found its way to Greg Stewart in the centre of the box. He controlled the ball brilliantly despite the intense pressure on him he cheekily faked to make space for himself to get the shot away. But his shot was right at Gurmeet who punched the ball away to make sure the score stayed at 1-1.
In added time after the regular 90 minutes both coaches made one final change each. Manolo brought on Aaren D’Silva for Ogbeche to change the focal point of the Hyderabad FC attack. Coach Buckingham brought on Vikram Partap Singh for Bipin Singh as the last throw of the dice.
The referee soon after blew the final whistle of the game as it ended at 1-1 as the top two teams in the ISL table shared the points in the fixture.
Mumbai City FC will travel to Goa to take on the Gaurs in their next ISL game of the season, the game will be played on the 11th of February, it will kick off at 5.30pm IST.