The Mumbai Football Arena witnessed a six-goal affair in the Islanders’ opening home game of the 2019/20 season. Unfortunately, it was Jorge Costa’s boys who came short in a 2-4 defeat against ISL newcomers Odisha FC.
A brace from Aridane Santana and goal each from Xisco Hernandez and Jerry Mawhmingthanga saw the visitors put four past Mumbai City FC. Both the Mumbai City FC goals came in the second half, first via a Mohamed Larbi penalty and a stoppage-time goal from Bipin Singh.
The Islanders were hit with a setback even before the game began as midfield powerhouse, Rowllin Borges got injured in the warm-up and was replaced by Serge Kevyn. It was the visitors who started the game positively with Jerry’s cross in the 2nd minute putting Mohammed Rafique under pressure to clear the ball away.
In the very next attack, Odisha FC took an early lead through Xisco Hernandez. The Spanish midfielder got past Pratik Chaudhari before curling a left-footed curler past Amrinder Singh in goal. It was the first goal that the Islanders conceded this season.
Odisha FC upped the ante after the first goal with striker Aridane hitting the crossbar via a deflection in the 9th minute. Vinit Rai, who also came in as a late replacement before kick-off for the injured Bikramjit Singh was shown a yellow card after fouling Diego Carlos in a counter-attack.
The pace of the game slowed down after all the initial drama with both sides taking their time to create more opportunities. But, it was the visitors who doubled the lead as Aridane finished with a first-time shot into the bottom right corner, giving Amrinder no chance in goal.
With a two-goal deficit, the pressure got to the home side. The lively Diego Carlos created a chance for Serge Kevyn inside the box. The no.7 was unable to keep his composure. He turned and shot from inside the box but his effort was off target.
The game heated up after Aridane put in a bad challenge on Subhasish Bose who had to be stretchered off for treatment. The striker was shown a yellow card for his challenge while Amrinder Singh was also booked for showing dissent towards the referee.
The away side managed to score a third goal in the first half after Nandhakumar Sekar saw his effort tipped onto the bar from Amrinder Singh. The loose ball fell to Jerry and he took his time before blasting the ball into the roof of the net. The first-half scoreboard read 3-0 in Odisha FC’s favour.
Jorge Costa made a change before the start of the second half, bringing on Valpuia for Subhasish. The Islanders looked to make an impact in the game. An error from Francisco Dorronsoro saw the Islanders win a penalty after the goalkeeper fouled Kevyn in the box. Up stepped, Mohamed Larbi and he made no mistake from the spot. His goal also meant it was the Islanders’ 100th goal in ISL history.
Only a couple of minutes later, there were huge appeals for another penalty. The man in culprit was Rana Gharami as the ball deflected and hit his hand but the referee seemed to have looked the other way. Raynier Fernandes took one for the team after fouling Jerry in a potential counter-attack. The local boy was shown a yellow card for the foul.
Just as it looked like the Islanders were trying to make a comeback, Odisha FC took control of the game by slowing the pace and keeping possession of the ball. The away side made a couple of substitutions with Xisco and Nandhakumar going off for Martin Guedes and Romeo Fernandes.
With 20 minutes remaining, the home side came close to scoring their second goal. Carlos’s cross found Larbi in the box, the Tunisian midfielder went for goal but his effort was cleared off the line by Diawandou Diagne.
Odisha FC delivered the killer punch in the 73rd minute with Aridane rising highest to head Jerry’s cross and getting his second goal of the night. It just didn’t seem to go well for the Islanders in their opening home game this season. Bipin Singh was introduced in the 76th minute for Paulo Machado as the Boss looked to reduce the deficit.
Both the managers made their final changes as Vinit Rai was replaced by Daniel Lalhlimpuia for Odisha FC whereas Vignesh Dakshinamurthy came on for Rafique for Mumbai City FC. In the 83rd minute, Larbi had half a chance to score after Bipin’s cross from the left flank found him at the far post. The midfielder’s header hit the side netting and increased frustration for the home side.
Deep into the 5-minute stoppage time, Bipin Singh scored a consolation goal to give the home fans something to cheer about. Dorronsoro failed to hold onto the ball as Bipin’s cross-cum-shot from the left went above the goal line. In the end, the visitors played good football to pick their first points of the season. Plenty of work to be done for Jorge Costa and his boys as they return to action in a week’s time against FC Goa at the Mumbai Football Arena on November 7.