Kolkata (West Bengal)/Kokrajhar (Assam) [India], August 20 (ANI): Indian Super League (ISL) giants Mumbai City FC registered a comprehensive 4-0 win against Indian Navy FT at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Saturday.
The Islanders maintained a perfect winning record and advanced to the quarter-finals as the winners of Group B. Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Greg Stewart, Gurkirat Singh, and Nathan Asher Rodrigues got their names on the scoresheet for the ISL side.
Mumbai City FC’s Head Coach, Des Buckingham, fielded a formidable starting lineup, making only one change by bringing in Lallinzuala Chhangte in place of Valpuia. The team began with just two defenders in the lineup, positioning defensive midfielder Yoell Van Nieff as the third centre-back. Indian Navy’s Head Coach, V.S Abhilash Nair, opted for his strongest lineup against the current runners-up of the tournament.
Right from the start, Mumbai took an attacking stance, consistently creating chances and putting pressure on the Navy defence. Greg Stewart, Chhangte, Bipin Singh, Pereyra Diaz, Alberto Noguera, and Vikram Partap Singh successfully penetrated the defence. Navy goalkeeper Vishnu V.K. made impressive saves, and a defender cleared the ball off the line to prevent Mumbai from scoring their first goal.
Mumbai continued their dominance, but they could not double their advantage before halftime. Indian Navy maintained their defensive shape, making it challenging for Mumbai to find openings.
Des Buckingham substituted Sanjeev Stalin for Vikram Pratap and moved to a more traditional 4-3-3 setup. This alteration in tactics didn’t alter their attacking style of play.
In spite of all the attacks, Navymen had numbers in defence thwarting every move. It took 17 minutes for Mumbai to score again. Chhangte’s cross from the right was headed in by Greg Stewart even as he was surrounded by two defenders. Mumbai put the ball in the net again after a few minutes but it was again disallowed for offside, the third time in the match.
Mumbai gaffer brought in the changes introducing some younger players to get some match time. Gurkirat Singh received a through ball from Greg Stewart and finished past the Navy keeper to score his first goal for Mumbai City FC.
Nathan Asher Rodrigues then applied the finishing touches to the match in the sixth minute of injury time. He took advantage of a loose ball from a corner inside the box and finished to give Mumbai their fourth goal.
In the other fixture on Saturday, Odisha FC suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat to Bodoland FC at the SAI Stadium in Kokrajhar as the Juggernauts were eliminated from the Durand Cup.
Odisha FC Reserves’ head coach, Amit Rana, named an unchanged lineup from the 2-1 win against Rajasthan United FC in their second match. The ISL team required a significant margin, whereas the hosts were also in search of a win as the game got underway on a watery pitch in Kokrajhar.
Odisha FC had a fair share of ball possession in the opening minutes of the game, and in the 20th minute, Aphaoba Singh had a great opportunity to open the scoring when Pungte laid off a ball for him within shooting distance, but the former’s effort hit the side net.
Moments later, Bodoland FC had their first scoring chance, but the effort from the Bodoland forward was saved by Niraj Kumar, diving to his left. The hosts had another chance in quick succession, and once again, the Odisha FC custodian came to the rescue as the first half ended goalless.
In the second half, Pungte Lapung put his side ahead when he received a low cross from the right flank before slotting it home. Pungte had another scoring opportunity in the 71st minute, but his effort was hit straight at the Bodoland keeper.
The home side got rejuvenated and dominated the final quarter of the game. Odisha FC defenders did well initially to block a flurry of attacks from the opposition, but they couldn’t hold on for long.
Then in the 80th minute, Maneshwar Mushahary, who had just come on as a substitute, brought the roof down at the SAI Stadium with the equalizer. The ball was floated into the Juggernaut’s box from just inside their half by Situ Basumatary. Odisha keeper Niraj Kumar came forward and rose to collect but Maneshwar’s head beat him to it and the game was tied.
The winner came in the final minute of regulation time when two more substitutes combined for Bodoland. Ghanaian Joe Aidoo put the ball through inside the box for Irakadu Khakhlari, who drove in and cut back for Cameroonian striker Zacharie Mbenda to finish.
Both Odisha FC and Bodoland FC end their Durand Cup 2023 campaign with three points. (ANI)
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