Mumbai City FC triumphed against Jamshedpur, 3-1 in a high-octane encounter that sealed their slot in the 2023-24 AFC Champions League where the Islanders will now compete for supremacy in the pinnacle of Asian club football. Goals from Ahmed Jahouh, Alberto Noguera and Vikram Pratap Singh ensured that their offensive prowess was enough to overcome Jamshedpur FC.
After a brief hiatus, the Islanders were back in action with a full-strength team to take on Jamshedpur FC. Des Buckingham deployed his trusted 4-3-3 formation with Phurba Lachenpa as the designated custodian between the posts. Rostyn Griffiths partnered Mehtab Singh in central defence, flanked by Rahul Bheke and Vignesh in the full-back positions. An impressive trio comprising Apuia Ralte, Ahmed Jahouh and Alberto Noguera were entrusted with the midfield while the clinical Jorge Pereyra Diaz was tasked as the marksman upfront aided by Lallianzuala Chhangte and Bipin Singh on the right and left wing respectively.
From the onset, the Islanders looked comfortable in possession. Their first shot on goal came as early as the 2nd minute of the game, when a leep free kick from Ahmed Jahouh found Rahul Bheke in the box on a late run, who headed it over the framework. The Islanders looked to take an early lead in the game.
The next chance of the game broke for the Red Miners who responded to the early attack soon after when a thunderous strike by Jay Emmanuel Thomas was denied by an outstretched Phurba Lachenpa in goal in the 11th minute.
Jamshedpur FC were defending with vigour, often crowding the box every time Mumbai City FC looked threatening in possession. In the 37th minute, Chhangte crafted a shot for Apuia just outside the box, but Apuia’s attempt was blocked by Pratik.
Mumbai City FC were creating chances at will. In the 40th minute Bipin Singh played in Pereyra Diaz from the left flank with an opportunity but yet again the shot was deflected by a Jamshedpur body.
Slowly but surely, the Islanders found their rhythm, displaying their free-flowing brand of pass and play football. In the immediate aftermath of their momentum, Bipin Singh had his best chance of the match so far, when a driven left footed shot from outside the box hit the post after it was kept out by a diving Rehenesh in the 43rd minute.
The referee soon after blew the half-time whistle. Mumbai City FC dominated the first half but Jamshedpur FC looked threatening on the counter throughout the first period.
The Islanders carried their momentum into the second half. Their relentless pursuit of a goal bore fruit in the 51st minute when the lightning quick footwork of Chhangte on the right side of the box proved too much for Ricky who fouled him in the box, earning Des Buckingham’s side a clear penalty. Ahmed Jahouh stepped up to the spot for the Islanders and buried it into the corner with ice cold composure.
Mumbai City FC were denied a second goal in the 60th minute, following a deft piece of skill, Noguera squared it to Chhangte at the front post. Chhangte unleashed a snap-shot that was then cleared by Jamshedpur fullback Ricky off the line tenaciously - possibly with his arms - to keep the Islanders at bay.
As the game progressed, Des Buckingham’s side continued to look more menacing with each wave of possession. Rehnesh made another crucial save in the 59th minute, when an inviting floater by Jahouh was headed in by Mehtab Singh, only to be denied by a diving Rehnesh.
In the 60th minute of the game, Greg Stewart was brought on to replace the hard-working Jorge Pereyra Diaz as Buckingham looked to bring in new impetus in attack.
Soon after, Aidy Boothroyd made his first change of the game in the 65th minute, as he brought on Rafael Crivellaro for Harry Sawyer.
In the 70th minute, the Islanders doubled their lead. A cross aimed towards the Jamshedpur FC box was headed out only to find Noguera, who negated an awkward bounce to thump a left footed volley into the back of the net to make it 2-0 for the Islanders.
Around the 74th minute, Rowllin Borges was brought in to replace Apuia Ralte in midfield to add some energy in midfield as they looked to completely take control of the game.
Jamshedpur FC missed an opportunity to cut the deficit, in the 77th minute, when Jay Emmanuel-Thomas carved a through ball for Ricky who charged down the left side of the penalty area, however he mis-cued his shot and the ball soared over the crossbar.
The Red Miners pulled one back in the 80th minute, when Sabia muscled his way through the crowd to get in front of goal to head the ball from the corner kick to make it 2-1.
Both teams made substitutions in the final stretch of the game. In the 84th minute, Vikram Pratap Singh and Mourtada Fall were brought on for Noguera and Vignesh. The Red Miners replaced Boris with striker Ishan Pandita for a late on-slaught on the Mumbai City FC goal.
Deep in stoppage time, Mumbai City FC established an unassailable lead to bury the game beyond doubt. On a quick breakaway, Greg Stewart magnanimously laid it off to Vikram Pratap Singh who caught the goalkeeper off his line, and clinically placed it beyond Rehnesh’s reach and into the goal, making it 3-1 in the 93rd minute.
Mumbai City FC sealed their berth in the 2023-24 AFC Champions League with this win against the Red Miners. Des Buckingham will lead the Islanders to consecutive Champions League qualifications after writing Indian football history last season when Mumbai City finished second in the group.
The Islanders are now gearing up for the Super Cup, with their first match of the Group Stage set to be played on the 11th of April 2023 in Manjeri against either Churchill Brothers or Real Kashmir and will kick-off at 5.30pm IST.