Clinical Mumbai City FC see off FC Goa to boost semi-final chances
Mumbai City FC rode on Mehtab Singh and Diego Mauricio's strikes to beat FC Goa 2-0 in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on Saturday at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa. With the win, the Islanders reclaimed their spot in the top-four.
FC Goa made all the early running in the game as they bossed possession and created a few openings through clever combination play but it wasn’t enough to open up a stubborn Mumbai City FC rearguard.
The Islanders though created the first big chance of the match in the 22nd minute when Vignesh Dakshinamurthy sent an inch-perfect cross for Igor Angulo but he couldn’t keep his header on target.
Two minutes later, the Islanders custodian Mohamad Nawaz made a complete howler when he failed to clear his line and instead took down Airam Cabrera inside the box, but the 22-years goalkeeper redeemed himself by denying Cabrera from scoring the penalty.
The chances kept coming for FC Goa and Mumbai City FC goalkeeper Nawaz had to be alert to the danger as he palmed away a fiercely struck Cabrera shot in the 28th minute.
Just five minutes after the drinks break, the deadlock was broken by Des Buckingham’s side when Casio Gabriel floated a cross from the right flank for Mehtab Singh. The 23-years old defender made no mistake, as he headed his first goal of Hero ISL and gave the all-important lead to his team.
However, the FC Goa kept on looking for their first goal, they came close to scoring an equaliser in the 43rd minute when a cross from Alberto Noguera landed on the foot of Dylan Fox, but the Australian footballer failed to keep it on target and instead he hit the side netting.
The Gaurs grew a bit frustrated as the half wore on as the Islanders were able to preserve their 1-0 lead going into half-time.
Des Buckingham brought on Vinit Rai for Bradden Inman for the second half but it was FC Goa who created the first opening when Devendra Murgaonkar played a ball for Ivan Gonzalez inside the six-yard area. But the Spaniard's first-time shot was straight at the goalkeeper.
FC Goa had goalkeeper Naveen Kumar to thank for preventing the MCFC from taking the 2-0 lead as he made a top save from a Lallianzuala Chhangte header nine minutes from the restart.
The Islanders defender Rahul Bheke registered him on the scoresheet in the 62nd minute but that goal was ruled out by the referee as the Indian international was offside.
Both coaches introduced fresh legs on the pitch in the 70th minute. For FC Goa, their goalscorers in the previous match, Jorge Ortiz and Sanson Pereira were introduced in place of Fox and Murgaonkar. While for MCFC, Igor Angulo and Lallianzuala Chhangte got replaced by Vikram Pratap Singh and Diego Mauricio
Buckingham’s substitution of Mauricio turned out to be the right one. Just five minutes before the full-time whistle the Brazilian forward all on his own won the ball from Goa defenders and hit a powerful grounder that ended into the back of the net and secured three points for his team.
FC Goa continued to push but couldn’t make it work in the final third as the Islanders held on for a 2-0 victory.
This win puts defending champions back in the semi-final race, as they stand fourth in the league table with 31 points from 18 matches. While the Gaurs remained at ninth position.
The Blues next face Kerala Blasters on Wednesday while FC Goa will take on Kerala Blasters next Sunday.