Chennayin FC fail to go level on points at the top, as Leo Costa’s late strike earns Mumbai City FC a draw.
It ended all square at the Marina Arena, as Chennayin FC succumbed to an 87th minute screamer from MCFC midfielder Leo Costa. Mumbai, fresh from an away win against league leaders Atletico de Kolkata, were absent for most part of the game as Chennayin dominated both possession and the attacking index.
The home side made five changes since their draw with Kerala Blasters with them being a keeper and 4 attacking changes. Coach Materazzi, who missed had to watch the game from the stands, deployed an Indian dominated midfield as Harmanjot Khabra, Thoi Singh and Siam Hanghal all starting, while Jeje came into the side along with Maurizio Peluso upfront. Mumbai fielded an unchanged lineup.
The first half started very slowly, with both the teams passing around in the middle of the park when in possession, playing a slow game. The game saw a comic moment in the 7th minute when Mumbai keeper Albino Gomes gave away a needless corner as he failed to keep in the ball in play from a back pass from his own teammate. Any sort of attacking display was almost absent until the 15th minute, when Raphael Augusto played a neat through ball for Jeje, but the ball was tackled away just as the striker was about to pull the trigger. Maurizio Peluso was in the thick of action throughout the first half, getting into crucial positions but only to miscue his shots wide off target .His first decent opportunity came from a freekick , when his goal bound shot was tipped over the bar by the MCFC keeper. The first half was a slow paced one with Chennayin involved in most of the attacking action, with the occasional counter attack or a set piece opportunity for Mumbai. Marquee man Diego Forlan came close from long range around the 35 minute mark but the shot skewed wide, it was the only decent opportunity they got before going into the break at 0-0.
The second half started with a much needed substitution for the boys in blue, as out of sorts Thoi Singh was replaced by Dudu. This half began better than the first one, with both the sides showing more attacking intent and it wasn’t long before the game saw its first goal. A deflected long shot was the catalyst, as Chennayin FC’s talismanic striker Jeje headed the ball into the back of the net from the resulting corner, in the 50th minute, taking his goal tally in the Indian Super League to twelve. Mumbai tried to get into the game with the introduction of Jakichand Singh in the 55th minute but Chennayin FC continued with their attacking pressure. Jeje came close to scoring his second of the game, but put his shot beyond the crossbar. He proved to be a big menace for the Mumbai defence in the second half, as he acted as the spark in Chennai attack going forward. Marco Materazzi’s side almost conceded in the 75th minute when a the Chennaiyin keeper failed to collect a Diego Forlan freekcik with the ball falling into the head of the opposition but the resulting header went out of play of the crossbar. Sensing a lapse in the MCFC defence, Raphael Augusto tried his luck but his effort was deflected wide off target.
Chennai soon got the golden opportunity to score their second and seal the game but were denied by Albino Gomes. Jeje had weaved his way past the Mumbai defence and put the ball on a platter for Dudu, only for the Nigerian’s close range effort to be parried away to safety by the Mumbai keeper. The save seemed to flick a switch in the mindsets of the Mumbai City players as they upped their attacking intent in search for an equalizer. Diego Forlan got a decent opportunity from a set piece but his effort was wide. It was in the 87th minute almost against the run of play when Mumbai City equalized with a screamer from midfielder Leo Costa. A second half substitute Costa, saw the opportunity and had a crack from long range, only for the shot to nestle into the top corner of the net in what seemed to be a definite goal of the season contender. Chennayin tried to score a last ditch winner in a quick counter attacking break in the dying embers of the game, but failed. The game ended with both teams sharing a point as an almost non existential Mumbai City managed to put on board their first ever points against the last year’s champions.
FC Pune City face FC Goa in the battle of the bottom two, as both sides desperately look for a win.
Finals last year and bottom of the table halfway into the next season, FC Goa’s fortunes seems to have taken a massive U turn as Brazilian Legend Zico’s side are in search for a desperate win after managing only 4 points from 7 games while the Stallions from Pune have been among the goals, but owing to a leaky defence,managed to concede more than they have scored. With 3 draws, a win and a loss, Antonio Habas’ men too have been struggling and need a major turnaround soon if they want to be in contention for the play offs. Both the sides play each other after matches with the Delhi Dynamos, while Goa lost at home by 2 goals, Pune were denied an away win after a late equaliser. As the bottom two face each other, it all points towards a crucial match in the tournament.
FC Pune City
Sitting seventh on the table with 6 points from 6 matches, the Stallions are still in contention for the play offs but need to turn things around as soon as possible. The Pune outfit have been really poor at home, with only 2 points taken from a possible 12 and still without home win. Habas who had two successful outings with ATK, was appointed Pune coach this season and it seems with things like new tactical approach and the late arrival of a marquee after Eidur Gudjohnsen bowed out with injury, the Pune side still seem to be a work in progress. In their last outing they drew 1-1 away at Delhi,with the Dynamos spoiling their party with a 79th minute equaliser. They would be hoping to seal a win this time around, as they prepare to face a side out of form and rock bottom. Edel Bete looks to retain his spot between the sticks. Ravanan, Rahul bheke, Gourmangi Singh and Eduardo Ferreira could make the back four. In midfield Mohamed Sissoko looks set to partner Jonatan Lucca with Lenny Rodrigues and Narayan Das acting as wide players. Upfront Dramana Traore looks set to start with Tato, who would be full of confidence after his goal in his last outing.
Zico’s side have been struggling big time with 5 losses under their belt already and the team firmly at rock bottom. A win against Pune would be lift the team up, both on the table and psychologically, as the team gives one lacklustre performance after the other. Goa’s problems seem to arise when it comes to finishing off chances, with their strikers being provided with the necessary supply but failing to make the most of it. The squad needs a boost in morale and a win could very well do wonders for them, keeping in mind they qualified for the semis last year with just 5 points. Subhashish Roy Chowdhury looks to retain his position in goal, with defensive changes coming in as Sanjay Balmuchu and Luciano Sarbrosa looks to be joined by Gregory Arnolin in forming the back three.Marquee Lucio looks to be starting from the bench again. The midfield looks to remain the same as the last game with Romeo Fernandes , Richarlyson , Trincade Goncalves and Mandar Rao Desai playing in the middle of the park. Joffre, who has been one of Goa’s better players is a sure starter just behind the strikers. Upfront Robin Singh and Julio Cesar are in contention for the starting eleven.