In a crucial match requiring just a draw for qualification into the Kalinga Super Cup semifinals, Coach Petr Kratky made a strategic change to the Mumbai City FC lineup, bringing back Jorge Pereyra Diaz up front in attack replacing El Khayati.
The opening moments saw Chennaiyin create a significant opportunity, with Crivellaro's well-timed through ball finding Connor Shields, who broke the offside trap. However, Mumbai's vigilant goalkeeper, Phurba Lachenpa, swiftly came off his line to block Shields' shot.
Shortly after, Shields delivered a ball into the box from the right, but Jordan Murray's header went wide. Despite sustained pressure from Chennaiyin inside the Mumbai box, the Islanders' defense held firm, blocking multiple attempts. Aakash Sangwan had a chance for Chennaiyin, but his shot took a deflection off a Mumbai defender and went out for a throw.
Chennaiyin engaged in intricate play inside Mumbai's box, with Murray providing an excellent pass to Rahim Ali. However, Ali couldn't control the ball at a crucial moment, missing a potential scoring opportunity.
Mumbai seized the lead with their first significant chance of the game. Jayesh Rane earned a free-kick on the right, and Van Nieff's precise delivery to the far post found an unmarked Valpuia, who headed home from a tight angle making it 1-0 for the Islanders.
Chennaiyin looked to fight back creating couple of chances but failed to breach the Mumbai backline. At the other end, Mumbai had another chance when Rane combined with Jorge Pereyra Diaz on the right, delivering a low cut-back into the box. Unfortunately, Ayush's subsequent shot missed the target. As the first half concluded, Mumbai City FC held a 1-0 lead, inching closer to securing their place in the Kalinga Super Cup semifinals.
In the second half, Chennaiyin FC pressed forward in search of an equalizer, with Rafa Crivellaro getting an early opportunity. However, his headed effort from a well-delivered cross went wide of the target. Crivellaro attempted another shot moments later, but his left-footed strike sailed over the crossbar.
Mumbai City FC, holding a 1-0 lead, focused on controlling possession to break down the Chennaiyin defense. Ayush Chhikara came close to extending the lead, attempting to capitalize on a forward pass, but Chennaiyin goalkeeper Samik claimed the ball after coming off his line. Moments later, another opportunity came in for Islanders as Gurkirat showcased brilliant first touch, bringing down a long ball from Pereyra Diaz, however he couldn't keep his final shot on target.
In the 58th minute, Chennaiyin's Jordan Murray posed a threat with a powerful header, but Mumbai's goalkeeper, Phurba Lachenpa, made a superb save to deny the close-range attempt. As the game progressed, Chennaiyin continued to attack, with Crivellaro attempting to find Connor Shields, only to be thwarted by a sliding tackle from Mumbai's van Nieff.
The 80th minute witnessed a remarkable save by Lachenpa, diving full stretch to his left to deny Irfan Yadwad's header from a cross on the right. Mumbai had another chance in the 86th minute, as Ayush Chhikara found himself inside the Chennaiyin box, as he tried to improvise with chennaiyin defence backing up, his curled effort went wide.
Phurba Lachenpa's exceptional goalkeeping performance throughout the game played a crucial role in Mumbai City FC's defensive solidity. Despite Chennaiyin's persistent efforts to find goals, they struggled to penetrate Mumbai's resolute defense.
As the final whistle blew, the game concluded with Mumbai City FC securing a 1-0 victory, earning them their first clean sheet of the competition and a well-deserved+ spot in the Kalinga Super Cup semifinals. They are set to face the winners of tomorrow's match between Odisha FC and FC Goa.