Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham expressed satisfaction with his team's spirit and character against Hyderabad FC, despite playing with one man down in the early minutes of the Indian Super League (ISL) game at the Mumbai Football Arena on Saturday.

Phurba Lachenpa's unfortunate red card and Abdenasser El Khayati's early substitution due to injury dealt two significant blows to Mumbai City FC in the opening quarter of the match. Despite these initial setbacks, the home team regained control of the game with their dominant possession play.

Jorge Pereyra Díaz and Greg Stewart had several chances to score in the first half, but it wasn't until the 76th minute that Bipin Singh Thounaojam found the opener. His shot, entangled in Manoj Mohammed's legs, hit the target. However, the visitors made a late comeback thanks to Joe Knowles, whose powerful shot found the back of the net with a deflection from Tiri, equalising the Highlanders' narrow one-goal lead in the 95th minute of the game.

“I can't commend the players enough for their work rate and the effort they've just put in over nearly 100 minutes’ worth of football, with the nine minutes at the end of extra time as well. To go ten men down that early in the game. We can talk about that in a minute, I'm sure. But to go down that early off the back of we've come back from Saudi (Arabia) three or four days ago and to work and be as controlled and as organized as they have, and have that desire to work together and work for each other, to make sure we got a result in that game, it's so important. And if we want to be a team that wins things and challenges this year, that is a minimum we need to have. So to see that was hugely pleasing for the way we want to do things,” Buckingham said in the post-match press conference.

Mumbai City FC have now conceded goals in each of their opening four matches. However, the Englishman doesn't see this as a matter of concern and is proud of how they have performed defensively today after going down to ten men early in the game.

“No, I mean, we conceded in the three games last year; we conceded four goals and scored six. I think before going into tonight, it was the same. I think we may have conceded one more goal than last year. If you're going to challenge and win, you certainly can't concede more than one goal per game. Over the last three or four seasons, an average of 20 to 23, 24 goals conceded has been the benchmark. So as long as we don't stray too far from that, and considering our performance in this game to keep a clean sheet with ten men for that long, I can only commend the players for their remarkable work rate in securing a result in this important game,” stated Buckingham.

The Englishman also praised Stewart for leading the team from the front and further explained his role for the side.

“Greg leads by example with us. His work rate, his understanding of the game, and I think we've seen over three seasons now, we've been lucky to have him in the Indian Super League, we've been lucky to have him at Mumbai now for two seasons. And I think when you have a quality of the quality of a player like Greg, when he's surrounded by so many, he can win your games by himself. But also his experience and leadership in that moment, especially tonight, is very important,“ he concluded.