Mumbai FC took a mammoth step to secure themselves in the next edition of the Hero I-League having clinched a 2-1 win over Shillong Lajong from a late 87th winner by Minchol Son. Steven Dias gave the home team the lead deep into the first half, but Fabio Henrique Pena’s strike from the spot squared up the scoreline around the hour mark.
Mumbai FC, having collected 8 points from their opening 4 games in the Hero I-League this season, found a sudden downfall in their form they could gather only 5 points in the next 10 games. Before today’s tie, the home team needed at least 4 points from an available 6 to stay afloat in the top flight of Indian football.
The opening 5 minutes of the first-half saw both sides share a handful of chances as the hosts created a better set of opportunities, coming close from a half chance to Steven Dias. Mumbai FC were being increased frustrating from the chances created; failing to convert the two big chances, first, TaisukeMatsugae misfired his shot after a darting run through the middle, and second, Eric Brown’s volleyed attempt to the near-post was saved by Vishal Kaith in-goal for ShillongLajong.
Mumbai FC were presented with more time on the ball; penetrating between the lines expertly, at times with good interchange play from the midfield pairing of captain TaisukeMatsugae and Hitesh Sharma helping exploit the gaps in between Shillong Lajong’s attack, midfield and defence.
Shillong Lajong approached their attacks in a direct sense with heavy reliability on their two front-men, Fabio Henrique Pena and Penn Orji.
The home team came closer to scoring the game’s opening goal on quite a few occasions, but marginally missed out due to lack of incisiveness from the two wide-men and the lone front-man Sushil Singh looked stretched heavily doing too much in little time.
During a similar transition, where Mumbai FC penetrated between the lines, Eric Brown was needlessly fouled in the middle just outside the 18-yard-box. Steven Dias stepped up and delivered with an immaculate freekick to give Mumbai FC the lead before the halftime whistle.
Into the second-half, and the away team brought a change in their gameplay with little gaps to exploit, bringing structure in their attack and defence. During a rare spell, which forced Mumbai FC towards their 18-yard-box, a mix-up inside the box resulted in a penalty being awarded to Shillong Lajong when Anwar Ali tripped Penn Orji. Fabio Henrique Pena sent Kunal Sawant in the wrong direction to level up the scoring on 58 minutes.
A majority portion of the remaining game saw Mumbai FC and Shillong Lajong produce a series of long-range efforts, which rarely troubled either of the goalkeepers. The hosts introduced Arata Izumi and a much-needed second-striker Ryuki Kozawa to go all-out for the winner, in a match Mumbai FC Coach Khalid Jamil dubbed as “do-or-die situation”, in his pre-match press conference.
Having looked dangerous from set-pieces throughout the match, a flashing header from Minchol Son in the 86th minute secured all three points for Mumbai FC. Following the defeat, Shillong Lajong left stranded at the rock bottom of the table with 15 points with one match in hand. They have to secure at least a point when they face Kingfisher East Bengal at the JN Stadium, Shillong at 07:05 PM on next Sunday. Mumbai FC host DSK Shivajians at the Cooperage Stadium at the same time next Sunday.