Mumbai City FC notched a narrow 2-1 victory over Kerala Blasters FC in their inaugural home fixture of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the Mumbai Football Arena (MFA) on Sunday. Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Lalengmawia Ralte scored in either halves for the Islanders, with Kerala Blasters FC’s central midfielder Danish Farooq slipping in with a strike between those two goals.

Diaz found the back of the net in the added time of the first half as skipper Rahul Bheke capitalised on space on the right flank to send an accurate cross inside the box. The Argentine striker somehow managed to get his feet to the ball and slotted it past the Blasters’ goalkeeper Sachin Suresh to help the Islanders enter the with a one-goal advantage.

Kerala nearly equalised courtesy of Dimitrios Diamantakos a few minutes into the second half, as they regrouped and began searching for their equaliser with greater energy. Farooq rushed ahead into the 18-yard box to meet a cross by Sandeep Singh, who was introduced as a substitute to help the Blasters stretch the game and attack more from the wider end of the pitch.

However, Mumbai realised that they were arguably getting outnumbered in the centre of the park. Apuia began donning a more advanced role and formed a lethal attacking triangle with Greg Stewart and Diaz. As the international duo scraped past their markers, the ball hopped over Kerala's backline. Apuia showed impressive awareness to get behind the defensive unit and nod the ball past Suresh to bag the winner for the Islanders. Kerala's quest for a late goal didn't materialise until the end, with their defender Miloš Drinčić and Mumbai's midfielder Yoell van Nieff being sent off just before the full-time whistle.

Key Performer of the Match
Jorge Pereyra Diaz (Mumbai City FC)

Diaz has picked impressive form right from the offset of this campaign. Showing no rustiness, he has hit the ground running straightaway and scored in his third consecutive ISL game to help Mumbai secure the crucial opening goal of the night.

He had multiple chances to convert prior to that, but his persistent attitude ensured that he was always in the lookout for a promising opportunity and lapped it up late into the first half. The striker capped off the game by winning three fouls, putting in two tackles, recording an 86% passing accuracy in addition to his all-important strike.  

What’s next for both teams?

Kerala Blasters will resume proceedings post the international break by squaring off against NorthEast United FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on October 21. The Islanders will host Hyderabad FC on October 28 for their upcoming fixture in the league.

Brief Scores

Mumbai City FC 2 (Jorge Pereyra Diaz 45+4’, Lalengmawia Ralte 66’) – 1 (Danish Farooq 57’) Kerala Blasters FC

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