Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham was disappointed with the result as Bengaluru FC halted the Islanders’ historic 18-game unbeaten streak in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), recording a 2-1 win at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday.

The first half produced a great tactical battle from both teams, but the Blues slowly took charge of the proceedings in the second half. Sunil Chhetri opened the scoring for the Blues in the 57th minute with a free header off a corner kick. Bengaluru FC doubled their lead in the 70th minute through Javi Hernandez, who slotted it in from close range. Seven minutes later, Mourtada Fall reduced the deficit for the visitors. However, Bengaluru FC held on in the final quarter of the game and secured their seventh straight win in the Hero ISL.

Bengaluru FC are now sitting in fourth position in the Hero ISL standings, with 31 points from 19 games. The defeat means Mumbai City FC, despite being crowned as the League Shield Winners, will no longer end the season unbeaten.

Mumbai City FC suffered their first league defeat after setting a new record for the longest unbeaten streak in the Hero ISL. Despite the defeat, Buckingham spoke highly of his players and the records they achieved this season.

“Unfortunately, we haven't been able to continue that tonight but congratulations firstly to Bengaluru (FC). Now they had a couple of chances, took their chances and that came away at an important time for them with the three points. It is a good lesson for us. We need to be at the top of our game in every game to make sure that we get ourselves in a position to win the game,” Buckingham said in the post-match press conference.

“Overall, it is a mixed bag of emotions but one of immense proudness in what we have done so far this season. Yes, this is unfortunate that we haven't come in and got points tonight, whether it's a draw or a win. But to put it in the context of our last league loss, it was in March 2022, 11 months ago. I think when you put it in that context. I was disappointed to not get the win. We will do everything we can now to get ourselves right and ready to go against East Bengal FC,” Buckingham continued.

Mumbai City FC will take on East Bengal FC on February 19 in their final game of the league stage. Buckingham insists he will field his best eleven against the Torch Bearers and made it clear that he won’t rest the players who have featured regularly in the playing eleven.

“The last game against East Bengal FC, the players that deserve to play will play. My job is to put out the strongest team I can to try and get performances, firstly for this club and secondly, hopefully then most performances turned into results and we've got 18 games worth of an example of that. So we'll see how they play or pull up. That would be our third game in nine days, we feel, the best players that who'll be able to perform, will play,” stated Buckingham.

Greg Stewart suffered an injury during the warm-up and was replaced by Alberto Noguera ahead of kick-off. Buckingham offered an update on Stewart’s availability for their next game.

“(His injury) kind of started off what turned out to be a bad evening. They (players) went out for the warm-up and before you walk onto the pitch there's like a gutter that's covered over with some Astroturf and the railing on the athletics track. So he (Stewart) tripped on that and slightly rolled his ankle. That happened right at the start of the warm-up. So a little bit of disruption but again not enough for us to change what we do and how we do it but hopefully he will be okay for East Bengal FC,” said the MCFC head coach.

Mumbai City FC will now head back to Mumbai. They will face an East Bengal FC side, who are already out of the playoff race. Buckingham said the defeat to Benglauru FC will not impact their mindset as they prepare for their final league game of the season.

“It (the result) doesn't affect mine (mindset) and we'll continue to push and drive this group of players to do what we've shown we can do all year. You don't want to lose a game, of course, but that feeling of losing, I don't think sometimes it's a bad thing just to reset and go again. But you need to deserve to win the game as well. We didn't create our usual free-flowing football this evening. We didn't create enough chances to convert those into enough goals to win the game as we did against (FC) Goa,” Buckingham said.

“If we don't perform, and I've said this all along, any team in this league is capable of beating another. And we for me in 18 games have performed very well either at the start or to finish. And that's something that in terms of our lesson for us, it's not a bad lesson for us going into firstly the next game and then some of our lessons and experience going into the finals,” he concluded.