Mumbai City FC registered their first home win of the season as they edged out Hyderabad FC by a one-goal margin at the Mumbai Football Arena. MCFC’s top goal scorer, Modou Sougou’s brace proved crucial in claiming the 3 points against the bottom-placed side. Bobo pulled one back for the visitors but the Islanders held on for the win. The Islanders had to finish off the game with 10-men after Sarthak Golui was sent off in the 67th minute.
Diego Carlos was involved in the very first attack of the game as he tested Kamaljit Singh from the left flank but the goalkeeper punched the ball away. HFC created their first attack in the next minute itself but Bobo’s effort went wide of the goal.
The Islanders scored an early goal as Sougou netted his first goal in the 2019/20 season after Diego’s cut-back pass found him in front of an empty goal with Kamaljit left ball-watching. It was a perfect start for Jorge Costa and his boys with the goal coming as early as the 6th minute.
In the 9th minute of the game, Diego showed good footwork and went for goal but Kamaljit made a low diving save to his left. HFC came close to finding the equaliser after Asish Rai’s cross found Bobo but his header was off target.
The Islanders were finding their feet and should have doubled the lead in the 19th minute. Mohamed Larbi’s smart free-kick found Diego on the edge of the box but the Brazilian’s first-time effort went wide.
Bobo and HFC had yet another chance to score at the Arena. Asish’s cross found Bobo at the far post but he couldn’t power his header on target. It was an end-to-end game with both chances creating enough to score.
In the 25th minute, Sarthak was shown a yellow card for an unnecessary foul on Nestor Gordillo. It was the away side who looked likely to find the equalizer. Rohit Kumar had an opportunity to score from 6-yards out but he couldn’t keep his composure and headed the ball wide of the goal.
The Islanders had a glorious chance in the 36th minute after Mohamed Larbi’s defence-splitting through ball found Serge Kevyn’s run behind the last man. The no.7 had Sougou for support but went for the goal by himself from a tight angle which was comfortably saved by Kamaljit.
Soon after, the Islanders once again came excruciatingly close to doubling the advantage, only for a couple of goal-line clearances from Asish Rai in the 42nd minute. First, Mato Grgic’s goal-bound header was cleared by Asish followed by Sougou’s effort from a few yards out which was also cleared away by the young full-back. The home side went into the break with a one-goal lead but with plenty of work still to be done.
HFC made a substitute during the break as Shankar Sampingraj replaced Rohit Kumar. As compared to the first half, the game started off on a very slow note with both sides not rushing into anything. In the 51st minute, Pratik Chaudhari was booked after bringing down Marcelinho as the attacker got past him.
The away side thought they had their equaliser in the 52nd minute after some scrappy play in the box. Pratik came up with a crucial clearance after Adil Khan’s effort hit the post followed by Bobo’s shot which hit Matthew Kilgallon’s back and eventually the danger was cleared away by the Islanders.
Jorge Costa was forced into making a substitution in the 57th minute as Raynier Fernandes went off injured and was replaced by Bidyananda Singh. In the other dugout, Phil Brown made two changes in the space of 5 minutes as half-time substitute Shankar got injured and went off for Robin Singh. The last change saw Giles Barnes go off for Marko Stankovic.
It was evident that HFC were dominating the second half and were unfortunate to not be on level terms in the 66th minute. Marcelinho’s powerful effort from the left side beat Amrinder but it cannoned off the far post and bounced out.
The Islanders faced a setback, going down to 10-men in the next minute after Sarthak was shown a second yellow card for fouling Marcelinho.
In order to stabilize the defence, Souvik Chakrabarti came on for Serge Kevyn in the 70th minute with the Gabonese also being shown a yellow card for possible time-wasting while going off. The game was left open with HFC having a man advantage but were a goal down with around 15 minutes of normal time to play.
After sitting deep in their own half, the Islanders opened up HFC defence with Bidyananda’s chipped pass finding Sougou on the right side. The forward made no mistake and lobbed the ball over Kamaljit on the half-volley to make it 2-0 and give some relief to the fans and the dugout.
However, in a rather anticlimactic fashion, the lead was cut down after just 3 minutes after Sougou's second. Bobo managed to get on the end of Asish Rai’s cross. Bobo's outstretched foot guided the ball into the back of the net but not without a slight deflection off Pratik Chaudhari. A nervy final 10 minutes at the Arena followed.
Sourav Das was taken off for Valpuia to shore up the defence. Amrinder was called into action in the 88th minute after Bobo set up Nestor for a shot and the Spaniard went for the top corner with a curling effort. Call it a force of habit, but our no.1 pulled off a blinding save, tipping the ball over the crossbar.
Hyderabad pushed and pushed and provided one final scare when a close-range shot from inside the area was saved by Amrinder but the rebound fell into the feet of Matthew Killgallon who tucked it away. To the relief of the thousands of Mumbaikars in the stands and at home, the linesman on the far side had his flag up for offside.
The away side pushed hard for the equaliser but the Islanders were fought tooth and nail to grab the full 3 points and managed to hold on till the final whistle.
A 3rd win on the trot meant the Islanders move onto 16 points and enter the all-important top four spots before heading into 2020. Jorge Costa and his boys begin the year with a clash against ATK at the Arena on 4th January.