Mumbai City FC squared off against I-league giants East Bengal at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar in a pre-quarterfinal fixture of the inaugural Hero Super Cup. Both the teams were facing each other for the first time and were aiming for nothing less than a win after both the sides did not have the most successful of campaigns in their respective leagues.
A very high tempo game from both sides but East Bengal looked to have an edge over the Islanders, who did not prove to be clinical enough on the day. Mumbai City FC put on a spirited performance but East Bengal managed to sustain the pressure to come out on top with a comeback 2-1 win over the ISL side.
The Islanders and East Bengal FC in their traditional Red and Gold got the much awaited game underway. It was a very competitive game from the first whistle with Zakeer Mundampara seeing an early booking. Pressure from East Bengal saw them breach the Mumbai City defence as Ralte tested Amrinder from the right flank but the custodian made an easy save.
Dudu had a few chances initially but Amrinder was up to the task and managed to take the pressure off The Islanders with some confident work in front of goal. The Islanders earned a free-kick in the 22nd minute, yards out of the penalty box, but Emana came up with the goods to score a screamer curling the ball to Ubaid's right. The KEB custodian had no chance to get a hand to it as the ball ricocheted off the post into the back of the net.
But to the disappointment of The Islanders, the lead only lasted for 4 minutes as East Bengal worked their way back into the game. A pinpoint cross from the right by Laldanmawia Ralte was headed perfectly in by the Japanese, Katsumi Yusa.
The 1st half saw East Bengal being the more dominant of the two sides as Al Amna and Dudu proved to be a nuisance for the MCFC defence. But neither of the the two sides were clinical in the final third, heading into the second half with everything to fight for.
The second half kicked off and the two teams immediately looked settled and in more control of the game. The Islanders earned a corner in the 51st minute that caused havoc in the East Bengal penalty area but they somehow cleared their lines only to find Raju who had a shot that went wide.
The initial stages of the second half saw Mumbai City FC with majority of the possession but not much to show in terms of conversion and shots on target. The first substitution was made by Alexandre Guimaraes which saw Aiborlang Khongjee come off for Pranjal Bhumij. In the 73rd minute, a wonderful well-waited ball from the midfield found Ralte on the right flank. He still had a lot to do as he cut in and had a shot on goal but Amrinder parried only to find Al Amna who was coming into the 6 yard box. Al Amana connected the volley and found the roof of the net to put East Bengal into the lead for the first time in the game.
In the hope to get in an equaliser, The Islanders sought to make another change to bring in Ruidas for Zakeer. A series of rough fouls from the the Islanders showed clear frustration as Katsumi was brought down followed by Al Amna but the referee has a word, cools down the mercury and manages to keep the card in his pocket.
As the game went into the last 10 minutes, the Islanders intensified their attack in quest for an equaliser but East Bengal show great vigilance at the back the deny the Islanders. All they needed to do from here on was to hold their nerve and see the game through.
The last substitution for Mumbai City FC brought Biswajit onto the pitch for Sahil Tavora with only 6 minutes plus stoppage time to play for. The ball was swung into the penalty area from a Mumbai City FC corner in the 88th minute but was cleared off the line yet again.
The 4 minutes of added time saw The Islanders with one last chance in front of goal but made no difference to the scoreline as East Bengal defended their way through to the Quarter Finals of the Hero Super Cup 2018.
A tough loss for the Islanders that ended their 2017-18 campaign after finishing 7th in the Indian Super League.