The evening encounter of Group C at the Kalinga Super Cup saw Mumbai City FC Head Coach Petr Kratky make a couple of strategic changes, introducing Ayush Chhikara into the starting XI while keeping JPD and new signing Ishaan Shishodia on the bench. Sanjiv Stalin dropped to bench while Vinit Rai slotted in his position.
The early stages saw Mumbai City dominate ball possession with a well-balanced strategy, displaying versatility in their gameplay.
The Islanders steadily advance into Punjab FC's territory, but a swift counter-attack by Punjab saw Luka Majcen's impressive run from the right wing set up Madih Talal, who missed the target, sending the shot wide.
The 13th minute saw Mumbai City FC earning a free-kick, opting for a deep corner, but Punjab's goalkeeper skillfully punched the danger away. Franklin Nazareth received the game's first yellow card for a robust challenge. Punjab FC seized the initiative with a flawless counter-attack. Luka Majcen orchestrated a brilliant run, setting up Madih Talal, whose shot narrowly missed the target.
In the 28th minute, Punjab FC showcased their prowess with a perfectly executed counter-attack. Luka Majcen skillfully controlled the ball, initiating a swift sequence of passes that culminated in Talal finding Majcen on the left side of the box. Majcen, with a precise and curling low shot, hit the back of the net, breaking the deadlock and giving Punjab FC a well-deserved lead.
Mumbai step up the attack and in the 34th minute, Nasser El Khayati came in from the left and looked to square a ball to Ayush in the middle, who missed it by a small margin. In the 37th minute, Mumbai City FC levelled the score as Ayush Chhikara latches onto a pass inside the box, turns and drills in a low shot into Punjab FC's net.
At the other end, a sweeping cross from the left is headed down by Wilmar Jordan setting up Luka Majcen for a shot inside the box. However, Majcen's shot goes narrowly wide of the target as first half ended at 1-1.
In the early stages of the second half, Punjab FC initiated a vibrant attack as Wilmar and Ricky combined skillfully to breach the Mumbai City defence. Wilmar's well-executed cutback found Madih Talal in a prime position for a tap-in from point-blank range. However, Phurba Lachenpa, the Mumbai goalkeeper, showcased remarkable reflexes to deny Talal's attempt. Shortly afterward, another offensive move from the right flank saw Wilmar delivering a cross into the box. In an ambitious effort, Madih attempted a bicycle kick, but the maneuver resulted in a high boot foul, earning him a yellow card.
Jorge Pereyra Diaz entered the game, bringing fresh energy to Mumbai City FC.
In the 60th minute, Mumbai City FC seized the lead with a remarkable goal by Ayush Chhikara, completing his brace. Jorge Pereyra Diaz initiated the play by delivering a precise ball wide to Gurkirat on the right flank. Gurkirat's subsequent delivery into the box found Ayush Chhikara, who swiftly adjusted his footing before slotting the ball past the goalkeeper, propelling Mumbai City FC ahead with a 2-1 lead.
As the game progressed, Punjab FC intensified their offensive efforts. A cross from the right reached Wilmar in a promising position, but his header lacked the necessary power, allowing Phurba to collect it comfortably.
Moments later, Lhungdim's delivery from the right was met by Majcen's header, but Phurba's timely intervention saw him punch the ball away. Punjab continued their attack, this time from the left, resulting in Juan Mera's shot soaring over the bar. Moments later, Juan Mera attempted a long-range effort, but the ball sailed over the crossbar.
In the 72nd minute, Punjab persisted in their offensive push, with Talal orchestrating an opportunity for Lhungdim, whose shot was expertly tipped over the bar by the alert Phurba, Lachenpa as the Islanders continued to hold fort.
As the game progressed another counter-attack from Punjab FC sees Wilmar Jordan execute an excellent lob pass to Luka Majcen. However, Majcen opts for a pass to Talal instead of taking the shot himself, resulting in a missed opportunity.
In the 88th minute, Nikhil Prabhu delivered a precise ball into the box, prompting a headed clearance by Van Nieff. However, the ball fortuitously landed at the feet of Luka Majcen inside the box. Majcen made no mistake, unleashing a clinical shot that found the back of the net, leveling the score and bringing Punjab FC back into contention.
However, In the 2nd minute of injury time, Sanjeev Stalin's delivery into the box caused chaos for the Punjab goalkeeper, resulting in a miscued clearance. Seilenthang Lotjem initially misfired his shot, but Jorge Pereyra Diaz ensured the ball remained in play. In a quick sequence of passes, Noguera directed the ball back across the box, where Lotjem, on his second attempt, successfully slotted it home. This decisive goal in the dying moments allowed Mumbai City FC to reclaim the lead, securing a crucial victory.
Mumbai City FC next face Chennaiyin FC on January 21st. A draw will ensure the Islanders path the Knockouts of the competition.