NorthEast United FC head coach Juan Pedro Benali was frustrated as his team suffered a 4-1 defeat against Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Vikram Partap Singh spearheaded the Islanders to a dream start scoring a brace within the opening 10 minutes of the match, which he later converted into a hat-trick with a 80th-minute goal. Yoell van Nieff found his name on the scoresheet too when he converted from the spot in added time at the end of the first half. For the Highlanders, only Jithin MS managed to bag himself a goal. Parthib Gogoi was sent off too in the dying stages of the game, with 10-man NorthEast United FC suffering their seventh defeat of the season. 

Benali was unhappy with how his team started the match, conceding two early goals in the third and tenth minute, putting them on the back foot right from kick-off.

When you play against a team with such quality and you do the mistakes in the first minutes, like we did, and when you concede, you start rowing against the current. I mean, and certainly, just at the moment we come back in the game and start playing, we just switch off very quick. We lose the ball very easy in the middle of the field and every player wants to do everything and not what is his job. We conceded against good players from Mumbai City FC,” stated Benali in the post-match press conference. 

A lapse in concentration from the NorthEast United FC backline saw them ship four goals. In attack, Mumbai City FC demonstrated their offensive prowess with eight shots on target, overshadowing NorthEast United FC's modest two shots on target.

Reflecting back at the loss, especially the goals, the Spaniard shared, “If you go back to the first goal. Minute two. Lack of concentration. No marking. Not looking on the backside. What is coming? Goal! Second goal. Photocopy of the first goal. Then the third goal, take the ball in the middle, try to dribble, lose the ball, penalty. Do you think its (giving) lot of respect (for the opposition), its the contrary. It was too easy (for Mumbai City FC), making things we should not do.”

“Also we're missing a lot of players for the game today. Quality players and that makes the difference,” he added.

Benali’s men take on Kerala Blasters FC next on April 6, where a win can still keep their playoff hopes alive. 

On being asked whether this pressure of making it through to the playoffs is getting to the players, Benali replied, “I tell you the truth, we have no pressure at all. We go to game by game. You know, I mean we have you see today the medium age of our team is a lot of very young players, players with no experience, in the ISL, most of them. We need to go game by game.”

Benali concluded the press conference sharing how he is going to prepare the team with the international break coming up.

“We hope, with some days off, we'll change our vision for the next games and start again from scratch. Because we have a good team, we have good players. We just need to believe that we are a good team,” he signed off.