The Islanders are through to the main draw of the Hero Super Cup after a tough win over a young Indian Arrows side. A 91st minute penalty converted by Achille Emana and a 104th minute winner by Everton Santos sealed the qualification for The Islanders.
Mumbai City FC dominated most of the first half and created plenty of chances for themselves. But it was the young legs of Indian Arrows who were finding it easy to clear the Mumbai forwards. In the 6th minute of the game, Everton’s shot hit the far post the Islanders showed their sign of intent.
The Islanders didn’t let their fire power go anywhere. Achille Emana’s corner in the 9th minute found Lucian Goian’s header, but once again cleared away by the Indian Arrows defence. While the young Indian Arrows were all fuelled up at their defence and didn’t back away against danger looking at the Mumbai City FC’s forwards, they receive a setback in the 15th minute when young forward Edmund was stretchered off the field.
In the evenly matched first half, The Islanders had their first best chance in the 16th minute when Raju Gaikwad took a long throw towards Balwant Singh inside the box. He managed to get the header but it went just over the bar. The dominance from the Islanders continued in the 18th minute when another cross by Sanju Pradhan found Achille Emana who only managed to head it straight at the goalkeeper.
Mumbai City FC almost found themselves in all sorts of trouble in the 29th minute when Deepak Tangri went past the defence, but he was denied by Raju Gaikwad with a last ditch tackle. There was nothing stopping the Indian Arrows, as Rahul went for a shot from the right but his shot went off target.
Later in the first-half, Mumbai City FC were all guns blazing. In the 35th minute, Balwant Singh managed to avoid the off-side trap but the custodian, Prabhsukhan did his job with much ease. In the 44th minute, Indian Arrows defence was once again tested when Leo Costa took the fifth corner for The Islanders, Lucian Goian once again headed it but was once again cleared away by the young Indian Arrows defence.
The second half started with more control game by both teams. In the 51st minute, Sehnaj tried his luck from distance, but Prabhsukhan was once again as good as his teammates and made a good save. Mumbai took a sigh of relief in the 57th minute when a one-on-one battle between Rahul and Amrinder was won by our custodian following a gaffe by Lucian Goian. It was a crucial moment when Rahul took his shot from the edge of the box, only to get saved by our custodian, Amrinder Singh.
The battle between the two didn’t stop there. Once again, in the 62nd minute, Rahul managed to beat the Mumbai City FC’s defence and fired one away, but Amrinder made a fingertip save to deny any possibility for the Indian Arrows to take any lead.
Achille Emana was at his aggressive best. In the 67th minute, he had a chance off Everton Santos’ cross but he mishit his left-footed volley that went off-target. The boys from Indian Arrows tried their best to controll The Islanders’ aggression. In that attempt, Aniket Jadhav was shown the yellow card in the 68th minute, as he brought Achille Emana down.
The spirited young side of the Indian Arrows time and again blocked the chances that The Islanders were creating. In the 69th minute, Sanju Pradhan’s free-kick was cleared by Indian Arrows defender, that fell to Rozario, who took his shot but was cleared for good by their defence. In the 72nd minute, Achille Emana took another free-kick from a dangerous position but couldn’t beat the wall of young Indian Arrows defence.
While the Indian Arrows defence didn’t gave The Islanders much to celebrate, their striker, Rahul was getting close inch-by-inch towards scoring the first goal of the match. And the moment came in the game’s 77th minute, when he flicked the ball over Lucian Goian, and went on through to beat Amrinder to find the net. Rahul was just an unstoppable force after that goal in the 81st minute, he found space in the box but his shot went past the goal.
One goal down Mumbai City FC took the attack to the next level and almost went all out to the Indian Arrows’ defence. Sehnaj once again tried his luck from distance but was just not able to test the custodian of the Indian Arrows. Both teams made some desperate changes to bring fresh legs. The desperation to stop Mumbai cost the Indian Arrows as they conceded a penalty in the 90th minute when Everton Santos was brought down inside the box. Achille Emana stood up to the occasion and brought the Islanders back in the game with his conversion.
Both teams were squared-up in the allotted 90 minutes of action. That equalizer changed the flow of the game in the extra time. In the match’s 94th minute, Marcio Rozario made a good connection with his header off Leo Costa’s free-kick, but couldn’t beat the goal-keeper. Goian too came very close in the 97th minute but the ball was deflected with much ease by Indian Arrows defence.
In the 104th minute, a long ball by Lucian Goian found Everton Santos who managed to control the ball smash it hard towards the left of the goalkeeper, who gloved it, but that was not enough, and The Islanders were up 2-1.
The second half of extra-time was all about slowing down the game for Mumbai City FC and to have more ball possession. In 114th minute, Indian Arrows and say Rahul made the last attempt to level things up from a tight angle near the post, but Amrinder once again was there to rescue and denied the possibility of any equalizer.
With this win, The Islanders move into the main draw of the Hero Super Cup will face East Bengal on 5th April at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar.