The spoils were shared at the Fatorda after a six-goal thriller between the Highlanders and the Islanders
The Fatorda witnessed an enthralling 3-3 draw between Mumbai City FC and Northeast United FC on Monday, the 27th. A hat-trick from Deshorn Brown, a brace from Igor Angulo and a solitary goal from Bipin Singh contributed to the scoreline
Des Buckingham rung in a couple of changes with Mehtab Singh coming in for a suspended Mourtada Fall, and Ygor Catatau coming in for Vikram Partap. Both the Islanders made their first starts of the season.
Meanwhile, his counterpart made twice as many changes. Tondonba Singh, Deshorn Brown, Sehnaj Singh and Pragyan Gogoi took the field for Gurjinder Singh, Mapuia, Khassa Camara and Rochharzela respectively.
The first chance of the game happened to coincide with a telling banner – Mumbai City have scored the highest number of goals in the first 15 minutes since last season. The statistic nearly went from 11 goals to 12, when Ygor Catatau got his head on to a Jahouh free-kick. Unfortunately, the shot was too close to the ‘keeper who tipped the ball over the bar.
Yet another chance came in the 10th minute, when we won the ball in the final third with our high press. Apuia slid in with a timely challenge, and fed the ball to Cassio. The Brazilian illusionist dinked the ball expertly to Angulo, but a heavy first touch left us goalless.
It didn’t take long for the first yellow card to be handed out either. Pragyan Gogoi was booked for a cynical kick at Ygor’s knee in the 17th minute. Just a minute after, Cassio nearly hit the target with a glancing header following a cross from Bipin.
The Highlanders slowly grew into the game, and it took 24 minutes till their first threatening attack. Northeast found themselves in a favorable situation after a transition. Suhair played the ball to Lakra from the right wing. His subsequent attempt at a goal was awfully close to Brown, who was inches away from a potential tap-in
But in less than 5 minutes, Brown opened his account for the night. In a very direct run of play, Imran Khan picked out the Jamaican from deep. There were calls for offside, but the forward ran into space and scored without objection.
A bounce-back was imminent, and it came just past the water break. Yet another lovely ball by our #7 picked out Bipin Singh who outpaced the full-back. An unselfish square ball to Angulo, and the hit-man got his goal tally to half a dozen.
We scored once more before the half-time whistle, with Angulo and Bipin combining once more. Jahouh’s penetrative pass found Cassio between opposition lines. Cassio played it to Angulo, whose deft movement opened up space for Bipin to run into. The Spaniard returned the favor by playing a through ball, and Bipin smashed it past the ‘keeper at his near post.
Coach Jamil made one change at half-time. Rochharzela came on for VP Suhair.
The second half also started in an exciting fashion, only this time it was Northeast who got the first chance. A set-piece delivery bobbled around in the box, and Hernan tried to make the most of his opportunity by volleying it first time. Nawaz reacted very well, and caught the ball cleanly with both hands.
In the 51st minute, we went 3-1 up. A lovely long ball from Rahul Bheke released Ygor behind the lines. Angulo foresaw the opportunity and began his run early. Our #38 was in tons of space, and picked out his target with ease. Angulo needed no further invitation to shoot, and he got his brace.
A counter-punch came only 4 minutes later. It was Brown yet again who found himself in space behind our defense. Mehtab tried to put in a tackle, but was brushed aside and the Jamaican had only the keeper left to beat. A side-footed finish reinvigorated Northeast’s hopes.
Bipin very nearly got his brace in the 68th minute. A direct goal kick to Ygor, followed by some brilliant control saw us unlock a very good opportunity. Ygor played the ball in behind and Bipin was through. His powerful attempt was well-placed, but the goalie pulled off a fine save to tip it on to the upright.
The following run of play also saw Bipin get his first yellow of the season, as he tugged on Coureur’s shirt while defending against a counter.
A couple minutes later Mandar was subbed off for Vignesh who marked his first appearance after injury, and Bipin came off for Raynier.
Just short of the 80th minute, Northeast got their third goal. Coureur swung a ball in, and a moment of panic led to nobody clearing the lines. Imran Khan latched on to the free ball and ripped a shot at goal. Brown got a touch and turned it into the net, thus claiming his match ball.
Pragyan Gogoi was subbed off for Northeast in place of Mohammed Irshad and Ygor was subbed off for Gurkirat in the next few minutes.
Neither side gave up till the end, as two gilt-edged chances cropped up in stoppage time. A poor pass in defense opened up Brown, who played it into Coureur. The forward was in a good position, but his shot was straight at Nawaz.
An eerily similar situation took place the other end, as a poor touch from a Northeast defender invited Angulo to pounce. He very nearly got his hat-trick if it wasn’t for the man between the sticks making a last ditch save
The following corner also saw us nearly score in the second phase. Cassio crossed it in, and Angulo headed it downwards. Bheke tried to cap off his 100th appearance by latching on to it, but unfortunately it went above the goalframe.
With this, we end 2021 on the summit of the table, 3 points clear. Our next game is against Odisha FC on the 3rd of January at the Tilak Maidan Stadium