Mumbai City FC registered their fourth win in a row after arguably our toughest game of the campaign so far against the two-time ISL champions Chennaiyin FC. The Islanders came from a goal down courtesy of Hernan Santana and Adam Le Fondre and now sit three points clear at the top of table.
Sergio Lobera made four changes as Amey Ranawade, Hernan Santana, Raynier Fernandes, and Adam Le Fondre returned to the starting eleven for the Islanders.
It was a cracker of a first-half of the match. Chennaiyin FC clearly had their plans in place as they looked more confident with the ball and created plenty of vital moves in the early stages of the game.
For the Islanders, it was a resilient Fall who made as many as three important interventions to deny the visitors inside the first 11 minutes. The visitors had the engine going but were a little unlucky on two occasions with Jakub Sylvestr called offside followed by Chhangte, who made a brilliant run with the ball into Mumbai's half but he struck his effort way off target.
The Islanders too had their moments in between. But the real goal-scoring opportunity came in the 25th minute of the game through a swift counter-attack. Hugo Boumous ran through the visitors’ defense and fed the ball to Le Fondre to finish it but our talisman took just a bit too long and forced a wonderful save from Vishal Kaith to deny the Islanders the opener. The rebound, however, fell to Bipin Singh who had another go from the follow-up but his shot was agonisingly wide of the near post.
Chennaiyin looked visibly the more dominating side ahead of the first drinks break and that didn't change after. In the 35th minute of the first-half they almost got a breakthrough. A series of good plays from Chhangte, Sylvestr, and Crivellaro gave the Chennaiyin side two important goal-scoring opportunities, but solid defending from Santana and Jahouh denied the visitors.
Chhangte, who had switched his side not long ago had another go with the ball in the 40th min. After a brilliant run inside the box, he fed the ball to Sylvestr, who finished it with ease into an empty net to put Chennaiyin ahead by 1-0.
Germanpreet got the first booking of the match for a foul on Borges, followed by Eli Sabia's booking that looked more for his adverse reaction to Jahouh after a challenge from the Moroccan.
The visitors had another go in the extra minute of the first half. But it was an important save by Amrinder followed by Rowllin's block that didn't let the away side take a 2-0 lead. In the final play of the first-half, Mumbai City FC finally had their moment. Santana’s fine header from Boumous' corner turned things around for Mumbai as they drew things up 1-1 with what was the last bit of action of the first-half.
The Islanders returned for the second half and looked a more confident outfit on the ball. While Chennaiyin's attempts on target were checked well by Mumbai's defense, the home side looked more in control of the game, assisted well with a fair bit of luck.
Sergio Lobera made a double change for Mumbai City FC in the 53rd minute as he replaced Hernan Santana and Raynier Fernandes with Cy Goddard and Mehtab Singh. But the real hero at Mumbai's defense was Mourtada Fall, who once again came to the rescue in the 54th min with conviction and denied a goal-scoring chance.
The next course of play saw both sides giving it all with Mumbai having a little edge over the visitors as their attack looked more convincing than the first-half. The Islanders, who are known for creating opportunities from set-pieces had another in the 75th minute.
Jahouh’s free-kick was met by Rowllin, who managed to head the ball towards Boumous who then headed the ball towards an unmarked Le Fondre to finish the job. A fourth goal of the campaign for Alfie and a second assist of the night for the Hero ISL’s all-time leading assists provider, sitting at 21 assists.
The home side didn't get carried away as they still had a task in hand. A terrific save by Amrinder in the 79th minute was a relief for the home side. The contest was far from over and the 2019-20 runners-up gave it their absolute all in stoppage time. In the final seconds of the game, Jakub Sylvestr nearly equalised from a corner but his header was just inches away.
As they say, it wasn’t a pretty-looking win but the Islanders got the job done in our second game within a span of just three days. A slight breather for Sergio Lobera’s boys with a fixture against Jamshedpur FC waiting on December 14.