Rozario, Rafa help Mumbai keep playoff hopes alive at Kolkata

Mumbai City FC edged ATK 2 – 1 in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday. Marcio Rozario and Rafa Jorda struck on either side of a Bipin Singh equaliser, as the defending champions’ winless streak stretched to six, while Mumbai stayed in the hunt for a playoff berth.

Both teams were content playing the ball around the middle of the park without attacking the final third in the opening minutes. It was the visitors who had the first shot on target in the 18th minute. Achille Emana gathered a loose ball at the edge of the penalty box and put his laces through his shot. But, it was directed straight at ATK custodian Soram Poirei, who palmed the ball away.

Two minutes later the hosts came close, when Jayesh Rane’s through-ball sent Conor Thomas goalwards. But with the angle slightly against the Englishman, he hit his shot straight at keeper Amrinder Singh, who made himself big to block the chance.

Two minutes after the half-hour mark, the Islanders took the lead. Rozario struck a powerful free-kick from the edge of the box, and although Poirei got a hand to the ball, he could not prevent it from going in.

Five minutes later, Emana took a free-kick from the left, but Poirei pushed away the Cameroonian’s curled effort. From the resulting corner, the ball came to Gerson Vieira, who drilled a low shot on target which again Poirei was able to gather. There were no further chances in the half as Mumbai went into the break with the one-goal advantage.

The home team equalised just two minutes after the restart. Conor Thomas played a lovely defence-splitting pass to Bipin Singh and with Amrinder rushing out, the 22-year-old calmly slotted the ball through his legs.

Although, parity lasted only for six minutes. Sanju Pradhan delivered a delightful ball from the left and Rafa rose high to guide his header into the bottom corner of the far post. Twelve minutes from time, Emana struck a powerful shot on the turn from outside the box, forcing Poirei into a smart, low save.

ATK kept attacking but failed to find an opening. Deep into injury time, Ryan Taylor’s powerful free-kick unluckily ricocheted off the crossbar and Mumbai breathed a sigh of relief. That was the last chance of significance as the Islanders kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs with the crucial three points.

MATCH AWARDS

Club Award: Mumbai City FC

Swift Limitless Player: Ryan Taylor

DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Sanju Pradhan

Amul Fittest Player: Achille Emana

Emerging Player: Bipin Singh

Hero of the Match: Marcio Rozario

Watch the match highlights here:

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