The fourth ever Maha Derby ended with Mumbai City FC held to a draw by FC Pune City and have further diminished their chances for a spot in the semi-finals of the Hero Indian Super League.
Both teams can boast of their attacking talents in their squad, but it was the less praised defenders that held both teams to a goalless draw. Mumbai City, though would have hoped that despite the absence of India internationals, their team would be strong enough to snatch all three points.
Both teams made a host of changes to their line-ups that saw Anelka starting along with Pavel Cmovs, Keegan Pereira, Ashutosh Mehta, Brandon Fernandes and Subash Singh. While FC Pune City tried to test out his squad depth ahead of the semi-finals by handing quite a few squad players with a start that included Arindam Bhattacharya along with Govin Singh, Gurjinder Singh, Sushant Matthew, Bikash Jairu and Tuncay Sanli.
With some players missing due to international commitments, both team preferred to take a safety first approach to the game and as a result, the first half remained a cagey affair with neither team being able to gain control of the match.
Mumbai City FC were the first to have any real chance on the 27th minute, after a miscommunication between the players nearly present a chance for Subash Singh. Pune City goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya was the culprit after taking too much time to control a simple backpass, while Mumbai City forward Subash Singh made to force any error by closing down early. Arnidam was fortunate enough to not concede after hastily clearing the ball, but it hit Subash, who couldna t direct his shot toward the goal from the tight angle.
FC Pune City had to wait long periods to have a real crack at goal, as six minutes before the half-time whistle, Adrian Mutu was at the end of a cross and his drilled-in first time shot tested the Mumbai City FC keeper Subrata Pal.
The miscommunication between Arindam Bhattacharya and the rest of FC Pune City players was again seen on the injury time of the first half, when he and Didier Zokora went for the same ball with the keeper stranded in no mana s land. Zokora though managed to avert the danger by clearing it for a corner.
After a hammering from Platt, FC Pune City were the better side and had nearly broken the deadlock when Mutu volleyed a half hearted clearance, which whizzed past the post. Mumbai responded with an attack but had to wait till the hour mark, when a Frederic Piquionne header went wide of the Stallionsa goal.
Mumbai though were determined to take home all three points, as Nicolas Anelka tried his luck with a shot straight at Bhattacharya on the 71st minute. Mutu proved himself to be a difficult man to mark, as he forced Subrata Paul to tip the shot over the bar in the 75th minute.
Mumbai City FC had the best opportuinty when Sampathkumar Kuttymani brilliantly controlled the ball with his chest and took the shot, but Bhattacharya positioned himself well to avert the danger by collecting the ball.
FC Pune City players didna t seem to like Mumbai City FC coming so close to snatching a win and substitute Kalu Uche had other ideas but proved to be futile.
Image Courtesy: ISL Media