Chhangte brace hands Odisha FC their first home loss as Mumbai City FC regain top spot
The New Year kicked off with yet another thrilling match as Lallianzuala Chhangte scored twice and set up one goal as Mumbai City FC secured yet another win to go top of the table. All six goals in this 4-2 fixture came in the second half at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar as Odisha FC fell to their first defeat at home on Monday.
Odisha FC began the game pressing high and inviting Mumbai City FC to try and attack the space behind their defence. In only the 2nd minute, this plan almost came undone as Bipin Singh found himself free on the right flank, drove towards the goal, and dragged his shot wide.
An open-ended first half followed, with Odisha FC matching the visitors for the most part. But on either side of half-time, Mumbai City FC found three substantial scoring chances - all of them involving Chhangte - and managed to break the deadlock with the third. Stewart missed a tap-in chance off Chhangte's cross the first time round, and Jorge Diaz had his shot saved by Amrinder Singh, before Chhangte's slick one-two with Diaz in the 55th minute gave him a chance to finish the job himself. He did so with a powerful finish that bounced off the crossbar into goal.
Odisha FC's equalizer in the 61st minute came through some top-drawer hold-up play by Mauricio, who received a long ball in midfield, skipped past a couple of defenders and created a path towards goal. On that path, he found Victor Rodriguez and continued his run to pick up the midfielder's backwards flick that split open the defence. Mauricio capped off the move that he started by slotting it past the goalkeeper.
From that moment on, though, the game tilted heavily towards the visitors. Ahmed Jahouh's freekick in the 68th minute was saved by Amrinder Singh stretching to his right, but his pass fell into the path of Bipin who was behind the wall and put Mumbai City FC into the lead again with a first-time shot.
The closing blows on Odisha FC were applied by Chhangte and Alberto Noguera. First, the midfielder who had come on to replace Greg Stewart slid in a through ball behind Odisha FC's very high defense to find Chhangte in the 79th minute. Goalkeeper Amrinder rushed out of his box to try and intercept it, but couldn't get his challenge right. The ball bobbed up for Chhangte beside him and the winger passed it into an empty goal from outside the box. He then returned the favour to Noguera in the 85th minute, dribbling past defenders at the goal line before chipping it square for Noguera who was running in from midfield and put it away on the half-volley.
In the 91st minute, Mauricio added another bit of brilliance to his night, waiting on the edge of the box for an aerial duel to finish, and then thundering in a volley as the ball fell to him. Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau applauded the effort alongside the home fans, but Mumbai City FC's efforts meant it was their first defeat at home this season.
The win puts Mumbai City FC in first place, two points clear of Hyderabad FC, while Odisha FC's third loss in four games means that Chennaiyin FC could come as close as two points to them in the 6th and final playoff place, if they win their next game. They stay at home to host East Bengal FC on Sunday, while Mumbai City FC host Kerala Blasters at home on the same day.