Mumbai City FC sneaked past East Bengal FC by 1-0 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-34 on Tuesday. After the departure of key stars in the January transfer window, the Islanders would be relieved by the performance put in by former FC Goa star Iker Guarrotxena, who joined Petr Kratky’s team last month.

The attacker made an impact straightaway by getting hold of a starting spot, teasing the East Bengal FC defence with his sharp movements and a fierce eye for a goal. Guarrotxena was on target in the fourth minute itself, which was set up by Vikram Pratap Singh through a low cross. The striker was merely six yards out at the moment, but he couldn’t open the scoring.

Lallianzuala Chhangte got on the move soon afterwards, dazzling across the frontline and playing key roles in creating chances for Tiri and Guarrotxena. The incumbent ISL Golden Ball winner pounced upon a corner kick to square up a delivery for Tiri first, which the former Jamshedpur FC defender couldn’t put into the back of the net. Guarrotxena’s effort in the 18th minute fell short of getting the visitors the lead too, but considering his lively presence early on, it was about time that he found the breakthrough.

It all fell in place in the 24th minute, with Spaniard Alberto Noguera chipping in a delightful delivery from some yards inside the halfway mark that Guarrotxena did well to bring down and control first up. Despite losing possession briefly, he was aware enough to recover the ball and hammer it in from the centre of the box.

The forward was a troublesome figure for East Bengal FC throughout the game, earning fouls from dangerous positions and getting to the end of precise passes from close quarters. Though he couldn’t double his goal-scoring for the game, he ensured that the home side was pegged back in their own half for the majority of the game, reflected in the massive 67.3% possession that the Islanders held throughout the game. For East Bengal FC, Hijazi Maher and Victor Vazquez had decent chances to equalise in either halves, but none of those efforts bore the required fruit as they succumbed to their second loss in a row.

Key Performer of the Match

Iker Guarrotxena (Mumbai City FC)

Guarrotxena completed 20 out of the attempted 25 passes, won three fouls, and scored the eventual winner. His contributions throughout the game were consistent across phases and it ensured that East Bengal FC never found a way to claw back into the proceedings.

What’s next for both teams?

Mumbai City FC’s next match is against Bengaluru FC at home on February 18. East Bengal FC will square off against Hyderabad FC a day before that.

Brief Scores

Mumbai City FC 1 (Iker Guarrotxena 24’) - 0 East Bengal FC