Mumbai City FC's 12-match unbeaten run came to an end against NorthEast United FC as they lost their home fixture 2-1 against the Highlanders. The streak began after the opening game defeat against the same opponent’s and unfortunately ended against them.
Deshorn Brown's two goals inside the first 10 minutes set the pace for the visitors as they registered back-to-back wins against the top two teams on the table.
Mandar Rao Dessai and Jackichand Singh were named in the starting eleven for Mumbai City FC. For NorthEast United, Ashutosh Mehta and Dylan Fox were out injured. Provat Lakra started for the Highlanders.
Mumbai City FC had a nightmare of a start against the Highlanders. A series of attacks by the visitors saw the home side on the back foot early in the game. Amrinder made a good save in the 6th minute, a strike from Machado was brilliantly cleared by our custodian. But, no one saw what was coming in the next course of play.
NorthEast United found the back of the net not once but twice inside 10 minutes of the first half. And their man of the moment on both occasions was Deshorn Brown. A well targeted cross from Nim Dorjee found the unmarked Jamaican international who finished it cleanly to put the Highlanders 1-0 up in the 6th minute.
Deshorn doubled the lead four minutes later with another clinical finish. Gallego's corner kick hit Machado's thigh and the deflection found the Jamaican right in front of the goal as he made it 2-0 for the Highlanders.
It was an uncharacteristic start for Mumbai City FC in the opening 10 minutes. The home side made a confident move in the 16th minute. A series of clean passes had Bipin got the Islanders going in the final third. He followed that up with a cross to Jackichand Singh at the far post, who couldn't find the right connection.
While the Islanders were finding it hard to test the visitors' defense, the Highlanders almost made it 3-0 in the 20th minute. It was another brilliant low cross to Deshorn, who only had the goalkeeper to beat, but failed with a too delicate touch that went wide of the target.
Mumbai fancied another set piece opportunity in the 30th minute. Yet again it was Bipin with a brilliant cross, but Ogbeche couldn't make the most of it as he failed to keep his header on target.
Post the drinks break, Ogbeche had another half chance from Boumous' cross. But the Nigerian international's acrobatic volley went wide of the target.
In an unfortunate incident, Raynier got injured as he stuck his feet in the ground. He was finally had to be subbed in the 35th minute by Mehtab Singh.
The Islanders, desperately looking for an opening, gave it all in the final five minutes of the first-half. But the visitors showed great character to keep the hosts at bay as they closed down the first-half with a 2-0 lead.
The second-half rather started with a series of committed plays and fouls. There were three bookings in the space of 10 minutes. Provat Lakra (48'), Ogbeche (51') and Jahouh (55') were at the receiving end.
Despite winning more possession, the home side failed to penetrate the Highlanders' resilient defense. Lambot stopped the danger of Ogbeche in the 60th minute and Mashoor's brilliant block in the 63rd minute denied Boumous' cross.
In an attacking move, Sergio Lobera made three changes in the 65th minute. The likes of Adam Le Fondre, Sarthak Golui, Jackichand Singh were brought-in for Hernan Santana, Mourtada Fall, Cy Goddard. NEUFC too followed with one change a minute later as Rochharzela came in for VP Suhair.
There were a few chances in the form of set-pieces for Mumbai City FC before the second cooling break. Jahouh couldn't find the target on multiple occasions while an organised work at the defense by the visitors didn't let the Islanders take a sniff of any goal scoring opportunity.
Nim Dorjee for NEUFC and Sarthak for MCFC were the next names that went into the referee’s book for strong challenges. Deshorn Brown the goal-scorer too got subbed by Idrissa Sylla in the 77th minute.
The Islanders paced things up in the final 10 minutes of the second half. An important interception by Mashoor in the 80th minute denied Le Fondre the opening. The Englishman did put the Islanders on the board in the 84th minute with an exquisite finish from a close range and made it a nervy end to the game.
Mumbai City FC were firing all cylinders as the clock was ticking and also had a few close calls. Le Fondre didn't manage to keep the header down in the 89th minute after receiving a brilliant cross from Jahouh at the far post.
A lot of credit will go to Subhashish and NEUFC's defense as they made important interceptions in both halves. Subhashish led his side with example and once again made a brilliant save and denied Mehtab to score an equaliser in the dying stages of the game.
The Islanders’ unbeaten run came to an end but they remain on the top spot and will face Kerala Blasters FC on Wednesday, February 3.