Mumbai City FC recorded a classy 4-0 victory over NorthEast United FC at home in a game that was thoroughly dominated by the Islanders. The Islanders scored 4 superb first-half goals that assured them the victory.
Des Buckingham made four changes to the starting eleven that won against ATK Mohun Bagan away from home. Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Apuia Ralte returned to the starting line-up in place of Alberto Noguera and Rowling Borges. Vinit Rai and Mourtada Fall also found themselves in the starting line-up in place of Vignesh and Rostyn Griffiths in defence. Phurba started in goal; Mourtada Fall partnered Mehtab Singh in central defence. They were flanked by Rahul Bheke and Vinit Rai 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 electric 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 NorthEast United FC. Young Halen Nongtdu was named on the bench for the first time since signing from Indian Arrows.
Mumbai City FC started the game in their usual aggressive fashion as they were keeping the ball well. The NorthEast United FC players were being given the run around as they were being forced to chase the ball in the early minutes of the game.
They were awarded a free kick about 30 yards away from a goal in a central area when Apuia was brought down by the Highlanders midfielder in the 5th minute. Ahmed Jahouh went for goal directly. His shot deflected off an outstretched leg of one of the NorthEast United players standing in the wall and the ball ended up in the back of the net. Mirshad was wrong footed because of the deflection and could not stop the ball going into the net as the Islanders had an early 1-0 lead thanks Jahouh.
The Islanders looked to continue their dominance as they were searching for more goals after the restart. They were pushing back NorthEast United deep into their half, who were finding it hard to get hold of the ball. In the 10th minute Mumbai City FC doubled their lead. Ahmed Jahouh played an impressive through ball to Chhnagte on the right flank in space. The Islanders number 7 then drove forward with the ball and cut inside while dribbling past a few Highlanders’ players. He tried playing a ball across but it deflected into the path of Jorge Pereyra Diaz who calmly slotted the ball past Mirshad calmly to make it 2-0 in favour of the islanders.
The Islanders were not letting the Highlanders breathe on the ball as Jorge Pereyra Diaz was constantly looking to drop in midfield to press. The Islanders were putting on a passing masterclass as they were expertly passing the ball around with minimal touches. In the 15th minute, Mumbai City FC scored their third goal of the game. A mazey, agile run by Chhangte from the right wing saw him break into the NorthEast United FC box with the ball. The ball was then flicked towards Greg in the centre who got the slightest of touches in the box on the ball which caused it to deflect off of Alex Saji as the ball went past Mirshad who failed to judge the path of the ball as the ball rolled into the net. The Islanders led the game 3-0 after 15 minutes into the match.
Vincenzo Alberto Annese then made a substitution in the 18th minute of the game in the hopes of jolting his team into life and spark a comeback. He brought on Mohamed Irshad for Chhara to add some more steel in the midfield.
NorthEast United FC were desperately looking for a way back into the game and suffered another blow as they were forced to make another substitution in the 27th minute of the game as they brought on Gurjinder Kumar for the injured Hira Mondal.
NorthEast United FC carved out their first chance of the game in the 28th minute of the game. Jithin M.S. made a great run with the ball from the left flank and tried crossing the ball into the box. However, the ball was smartly blocked by Phurba who was making sure that the Highlanders did not get a clear chance on goal.
In the 45th minute of the game Mumbai City scored their 4th goal of the game. Vinit Rai received the ball from Jorge Pereyra Diaz on the left-flank outside the box. Vinit then unleashed a venomous shot that lasered into the left top corner of the net as the scores read 4-0 in favour of the Islanders.
After the restart Wilmar Gil was shown a straight red for elbowing Pereyra Diaz while trying to protect the ball from the kick-off. The Highlanders went down to 10 men before the start of the second half as the referee blew for the end of the first half soon after.
Both teams made a half time substitution each as they looked to tweak things tactically for the second period of the game. Des Buckingham brought on Sanjeev Stalin in the place of Apuia Ralte, as Vinit Rai shifted into midfield and Stalin took up the left fullback spot. The Highlanders brought on the promising Pratibh Gogoi for Kule Mbombo in attack as they were looking to find a way back into the game.
Mumbai City FC continued in the same dominant fashion after in the second half as they were retaining the ball well. Buckingham made a double substitution in the 59th minute of the game. The Islanders brought on Vikram Partap Singh and Rowlin Borges for Ahmed Jahouh and Bipin Singh.
NorthEast United FC were sitting very deep in their own half as they were comfortable surrendering possession. They were trying to get numbers behind the ball as it seemed they did not want to concede more goals to a rampaging Mumbai City FC team.
In the 66th minute of the game Buckingham made another substitution as he brought on Gurkirat Singh for Greg Stewart. Jorge Pereyra Diaz shifted into position vacated by Greg as Gurkirat led the line for the Islanders in the final 25 minutes of the game.
The Highlanders players were looking deflated as they were struggling to get out of their half and Pratibh was the only NorthEast player that was near the halfway line.
The next chance of the game broke the way of the Islanders in the 73rd minute of the game as Rowlin Borges delivered an accurate corner in the box. Mehtab rose well to get his head on the ball but could not keep his header on target as the Islanders were threatening to extend their lead further.
In the 79th minute of the game Buckingham made his final substitution of the game. Vinit Rai had picked up a slight knock and was forced off. The Islanders brought on the young Ayush Chhikara for Vinit Rai who put in an exceptional performance in the game despite playing out of position.
Things were not getting better for the Highlanders as the game was drawing to a close. Their display was toothless as they were unable to carve out even a single clear-cut chance in the entire game.
The Islanders were awarded a penalty in the 88th minute of the game as Vikram was pulled to the ground by a Highlanders defender. Jorge Pereyra Diaz stepped up to take the penalty but scruffed his shot as Mirshad calmly caught the ball as Mumbai City FC failed to extend their lead.
Soon after the referee blew the final whistle of the game as the match ended 4-0 in favour of the Islanders.
Mumbai City FC will travel to face Jamshedpur FC on the 27th of January for their next fixture in the 2022/23 ISL season, the game will kick-off at 7.30pm IST.