Mumbai City FC might have bowed out of the second season of the Indian Super League (ISL), but they bowed out with their heads held high, as they defeated defending champions and current league leaders Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) 3-2.
This match would not have had the much bearing on the qualification for either of the teams, as ATK had already secured their spot on in the semis, while Mumbai City FC where already ruled out mathematically.
However, both the sides had some incentive to win the game, with ATK looking to secure top spot, and Mumbai City FC looking to avoid the bottom one.
As there was not much at stake for either of the teams, both of them played a rather free-flowing game, which meant that there were plenty of chances at both the ends. In fact both the teams took a total of 29 shots on their opponent’s goal, with almost half of them being on target.
Both Mumbai and Kolkata marksmen Sunil Chhetri and Iain Hume had their chances in front of goal, but they failed to capitalise on their chances.
But it was Haitian Sony Norde, who put the then bottom side ahead on the 26th minute, with an accurate shot into the bottom corner of the ATK goal, where Spaniard Juan Calatayud stood guard instead of top choice Amrinder Singh.
ATK struggled to get their chance for the equaliser it was South African attacker Sameehg Doutie, who again gave the Kolkata-based side the perfect chance as he went downs inside the opposition box, to earn a penalty on the 45-minute-mark.
Hume stepped up to the plate, and made no mistake, sending goalkeeper Subrata Paul the wrong way, to put the home side level at half time.
There was a long period of lull in the second half, when both the sides missed a flurry of chances, but Selim Benachour was brought down in the ATK box which prompted the referee to point to the spot. India captain Sunil Chhetri scored from the spot, to put Mumbai City FC in the lead with just eight minutes to go in the match.
ATK mounted on the attack even more to get the equaliser in the last eight minutes. At this point ATK wre playing two strikers up front, with Dejan Lekic playing alongside Hume.
Japanese-born Indian international Arata Izumi put ATK back on level terms on the 90th minuhte after latching on to a long aerial ball from the right flank. However, that was not the end of the story.
Mumbai City FC were determined to win their last match of the season, and Sony Nordy helped them do just that, when after a bit of intricate play between himself and Sunil Chhetri, Benachour sent the Haitian through into the ATK box.
Norde hit it low and hard into the near post, taking goalkeeper Calatayud by surprise, to score the winning goal. With less than a minute left on the clock, there was no way back for the Red and Whites, as referee blew the final whistle.
“It was a difficult game. I think we played one of our best games. We showed that we are a better team, and we deserve better, said man of the match Selim Benachour, in the post-match presentation.
This was Mumbai City FC’s first ever away win, and it would give them a lot of confidence for next season. ATK would now move on to the semi finals, as they wait to see where they finish, a there is still a chance that FC Goa or Delhi Dynamos FC might pip them to the first spot.
Whoever wins the match between these two team on Sunday would take the top spot on the table. However, a draw would mean that ATK would remain at the top of the table.
. Image Courtesy: ISL Media Team