It was a much awaited fixture as Mumbai City FC locked horns with FC Pune City at the Mumbai Sports Arena in the Maharashtra Derby with both the sides looking to salvage their first win of the 2018-19 Hero ISL campaign. Jorge Costa's men didn’t disappoint the home fans with a comfortable 2-0 win over their neighbours with goals from Modou Sougou and Rafael Bastos bagging their first goals for the club.
The opening half was a very positive one for the Islanders as they looked composed with the ball on their feet and put enough pressure on the Pune City players to win the ball back.
FC Pune City started off the match with a great chance in the very 1st minute of the match. Former Islander Chhuantea Fanai put in a juicy cross and the Pune skipper Emiliano Alfaro rose and headed the ball just wide off the post. FC Pune City looked aggressive and had the urgency to win the first ball on every occasion but it resulted in an early yellow card for Ashique Kuruniyan as he pulled Arnold Issoko to the ground. The Islanders made the most of the free kick with the ball finding Arnold on the far post who made an acrobatic effort to put the ball on target. The Pune City defenders were at the right place at the right time to clear the ball away.
Both teams played it safe for the next period of play. In the 21st minute, Alfaro did well to create space and put in a cross to find Nikhil Poojary who made a late run in. He connected the volley but the pressure from Shouvik Ghosh was just enough to put him off.
Just 3 minutes later, The Islanders attacked from the left flank and Machado put in a cross into the box. He overhit it and the ball went over the keeper to strike the far post. It fell sweetly for Moudou Sougou and he made the most of it. He found the net to give The Islanders the lead in the first Maha Derby of the season!
The goal was followed by a string of chances for both sides. Arnold Issoko’s chance was soon followed up by the visitor’s attack at the other end. Fanai put in a cross and found Nikhil Poojari at the far post. He hit the volley first time and forced Amrinder to make a good save and parry the ball away from goal.
FC Pune City looked on the front foot again as they found the target through Alfaro’s strike that found Amrinder. The Islanders were quick to start a counter and caught the visitors off guard. Modou was through on goal but Lalchhuanmawai Fanai flew in with a double-footed tackle to gift the Islanders with a penalty. Rafael Bastos stepped up and made no mistake from the spot as he doubled the lead with a clean strike down the center.
As the game got more intense, a collision between Lucian Goian and Ashique Kuruniyan saw the FC Pune City winger walk out and Robin Singh was brought in as a like for like replacement before the end of the first half.
The Islanders went into the 2nd half with a cushioned two-goal lead while the visitors stepped into the pitch with an intention to make their way back into the game. As expected, The Islanders were more than happy to sit back and let the visitors have the share of the possession. FC Pune City made an attacking change as they replaced centre-back Martin Diaz with striker Marcelinho, who was returning from a suspension, in the 59th minute.
The hosts looked very composed and defended calmly whatever came their way and even sneaked in a few chances that brought the visitors’ custodian Kaith into action again. FC Pune City had a share of chances on goal as well as the captain Alfaro made a good turn only to be denied by the crossbar. The 66th minute saw the goal scorer Modou Sougou replaced by Mohammed Rafique. The Islanders played with utmost composure even though The Stallions needed to up their intensity to find their way back.
A total of 5 minutes were added to the action-packed Maha Derby and soon after The Islanders were into another attack. Vishal Kaith was forced off his line and Arnold was sharp to find his way around him. He did just enough to get past his defender and make the most of a leading leg left behind by Gurjeet Singh and earning a soft foul in the box. The Islanders were on the verge of scoring their third of the game but Lucian Goian went for power over placement and Vishal Kaith got a strong hand as he dived to his right.
The Islanders put in a good shift and worked as a unit to win the Derby with a rather comfortable margin over FC Pune City and register their first victory in their Hero ISL campaign. Up next, is an away trip against FC Goa on the 24th October at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa.