Mumbai City FC registered a stylish 4-0 win over Kerala Blasters FC in the Hero ISL. The Islanders put on a magnificent attacking display in the first half that saw them score 4 goals. They also put on a resolute defensive performance in the second half to defeat Kerala Blasters.
Des Buckingham made one change to the starting eleven that won against Odisha FC away from home. Apuia Ralte came in for Vinit Rai in the Islanders' midfield for the game against Kerala Blasters FC. Phurba started in goal; Rostyn Griffiths partnered Mehtab Singh in central defence. They were flanked by Rahul Bheke and Vignesh in the full-back positions. The prodigious Apuia Ralte partnered the creative Ahmed Jahouh and the influential Greg Stewart in midfield.The Islanders had the effective duo of Lallianzuala Chhangte on the right and Bipin Singh on the left wing in attack. Jorge Pereyra Diaz was leading the line for the Islanders against his former club Kerala Blasters FC in this game.
The Islanders looked to start the game on the front foot and did so flawlessly. They scored their first goal of the game in the 4th minute to take the lead. Bipin received the ball in space on the left flank, He played a smart one two with Greg and burst into the box. He got his shot away but it was straight at the Kerala Blasters FC goalkeeper who could only manage to parry the ball away. The ball however fell straight to Jorge Pereyra Diaz who stretched to get a touch on the ball ahead of the Kerala defender. He directed the ball into the right bottom corner to make it 1-0 very early on in favour of the Islanders.
The Mumbai City FC players were relentlessly pressing the Kerala team and were not allowing them any time on the ball. They had got into their attacking rhythm from the first whistle of the game, they looked certain to score a lot of goals in this game.
In the 10th minute of the game, they doubled their lead. Rostyn played a diagonal ball out to Chhangte on the right who controlled the ball expertly in space. Chhangte whipped in a delicious ball into the box towards an on-rushing Greg Stewart, who got off a superb glancing header that ended in the back of the net. The scores read 2-0 in favour of the Islanders as they looked like a complete team in the opening exchanges of the game.
Before Kerala Blasters could realise what hit them Mumbai City FC scored their 3rd goal of the game in the 16th minute. Mehtab played an accurate pass to Jorge Pereyra Diaz who looked to combine with Bipin on the left flank. He cut it back smartly to the Islanders' number 29 on the left side of the box. Bipin then curled the ball superbly into the right top corner from the edge of the box to make it 3-0 for the Islanders.
At this point the Kerala Blasters' players were not getting anytime to recover from the goals and the Islanders looked to continue their onslaught on Kerala Blasters.
In the 22nd minute of the game, Jorge Pereyra Diaz scored his second of the game to make it 4-0 for the Islanders. Some superb passing combination play between Greg and Jahouh right outside the Kerala box, saw Jahouh play an incisive through ball to Jorge Pereyra Diaz. The Argentine had made his way inside the penalty area from the right side of the box and received the ball away from pressure inside the box and calmly slotted the ball past Gill in the Kerala Blasters FC goal as the Islanders had established an unassailable lead in the first half itself.
From the restart the Islanders looked to continue their assault on Kerala Blasters FC. They carved out another chance for themselves in the 26th minute of the game. A spectacular long ball from Jahouh found Chhangte inside the right side of the opposition box. He set the ball up for Diaz with a cushion header. Diaz unleashed a shot first time which was blocked as the scores still read 4-0 in favour of the Islanders.
As the game went along the seemingly frustrated Kerala Blasters FC players were making the game into a physical battle. They had started diving into challenges to stop the Islanders from creating more chances.
Due to the physical nature of the game the Mumbai City FC players were facing the brunt of the heavy challenges of the Kerala Blasters players.
In the 43rd minute of the game Des Buckingham was forced to make an early substitution as Greg Stewart had picked up a slight knock. He was replaced by Alberto Noguera in midfield as the Islanders looked comfortable with the 4-goal lead.
Mumbai City players were shining not only in attack but in defence also. In the 45th minute of the game Kerala Blasters carved out a chance for themselves. Some smart play between Luna and Rahul KP on the right flank saw Luna receive the ball right outside the box. He unleashed a powerful shot towards goal but was brilliantly blocked by Mehtab Singh who put his body on the line to make sure he got the block in. The scores still read 4-0 in favour of the Islanders and soon after the referee blew for half-time as the first period ended.
The Islanders kicked off the second half in the same fashion they ended the first, on the front foot. They were eagerly looking for their 5th goal of the game.
Mumbai City FC were dominating the ball and pushing the deflated Kerala Blasters FC players back into their own half from the restart.
In the 55th minute of the game Des Buckingham made a double substitution to help his players manage the game until the final whistle. Ahmed Jahouh and Apuia Ralte came off for Mourtada Fall and Rowlin Borges as the Islanders rejigged their midfield.
In the 62nd minute of the game Ivan Vukomanovic made his first change of the game in the hopes of inspiring his team into life. He brought on Saurav Mandal for Rahul KP on the right flank of the Tuskers.
Right after the Tuskers substitution, the Islanders got the next chance of the game in the 63rd minute of the game. A sublime sequence of passes in the Mumbai City FC midfield saw the ball reach Bipin on the left flank at the end. He put in a low ball towards Diaz, who got a cheeky touch on the ball ahead of the Kerala Blasters FC goalkeeper. The ball snuck under the keeper and was heading inside the goal before Jessel just got back in the nick of time to clear the ball off the line. His goal line clearance made sure Diaz was denied his hattrick on the night against his former club and the islanders their 5th goal of the match.
Vukomanovic made a double substitution in the 68th minute of the game as damage control he brought on Apostolos Giannou and Bryce Miranda for Ivan Kalyuzhyi and Sahal Samad respectively.
Coach Buckingham made another double substitution in the 74th minute of the game. He brought on Vikram Partap Singh and Gurkirat Singh in the Mumbai City FC attack in place of Chhangte and Bipin respectively.
Soon after, in the 77th minute, Kerala Blasters managed to create a chance for themselves. Bryce Miranda ran down the left wing with the ball. He put in a great ball into the centre of the box to set up a shot for Giannou, which was bravely blocked by the outstretched leg of Mourtada Fall, to make sure Mumbai City FC kept their clean sheet.
In the 84th minute of the game, Kerala Blasters made their final substitutions of the game. They brought on Ayush Adhikari and Vibin Mohanan for Dimitri Diamantakos and Jeakson Singh respectively.
Soon after the referee blew for full time and the game ended 4-0 in favour of the Islanders as they defeated the Tuskers thanks to a sublime first half performance. The Islanders will travel to Kolkata for an away game against ATK Mohun Bagan on the 14th of January, the game will kick-off at 7.30 PM IST.