Mumbai City FC qualified for the AFC Champions League 2023-24 group stage with a 3-1 win over Jamshedpur FC in the Hero Club Playoffs in Manjeri, Kerala on Wednesday. 

The Islanders will now become the first Indian club to appear in the AFC Champions League group stages on more than one occasion. 

In a clash where two previous League Shield Winners in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) went head to head for a place in the continental showpiece, Des Buckingham’s men proved to be too strong thanks to goals from Ahmed Jahouh (52’), Alberto Noguera (70’) and Vikram Partap Singh (90+4’) despite Jamshedpur FC making a game of it late on with a goal from Eli Sabia (80’). 

Both teams who were in action for the first time since the Hero ISL 2022-23 season took some time to get into the game. Mumbai City FC dominated possession as Jamshedpur FC absorbed the pressure without much trouble in the opening exchanges.

The Red Miners then went close to taking the lead in the 32nd minute when Ricky Lallawmawma found himself in space at the far post from a corner but could only fire his shot into the side netting. 

Mumbai City FC were then denied the opener through a combination of TP Rehenesh and the upright as the goalkeeper palmed a sharp Lallianzuala Chhangte shot onto the woodwork two minutes from the interval. 

The deadlock couldn’t be broken as the two teams went into the break level-pegging. 

Mumbai City FC started the second half on the front foot but Jamshedpur FC had the first chance after Mehtab Singh sent a low cross towards his own goal but goalkeeper Phurba Lacehnpa was alert and kept it out in the 50th minute. 

The Islanders then won a penalty at the other end a minute later as Chhangte was fouled which allowed Jahouh to step up and fire Buckingham’s side into the lead from the spot. 

The Englishman then introduced Greg Stewart as he went for the kill and Mumbai City FC doubled their lead in the 70th minute when Noguera who had peeled away from the crowd inside the box from a corner fired a scorching volley past Rehenesh in goal. 

But just when it seemed that Mumbai City FC were home and dry, Eli Sabia revived the game as a contest as he nodded home a header from close range from a corner in the 80th minute to give Jamshedpur FC hope. 

Buckingham rang in the changes bringing in Morutada Fall and Vikram Partap Singh to see the game off. As Jamshedpur FC desperately pushed for an equaliser, it allowed Mumbai City FC to kill the game on the counter-attack as Stewart set up Vikram who fired in a third goal deep in stoppage time to give his team the win and a place in the AFC Champions League. 

Mumbai City FC who became the first Indian club to win a match in the AFC Champions League will look to make more history when they grace Asia premier club competition again later this year.