Mumbai City FC registered a well-deserved 3-1 victory against NorthEast United FC away from home in a game that was thoroughly dominated by the Islanders. This was their third win on the trot in the 2022/23 Indian Super League (ISL) season.
Des Buckingham named one change to his starting eleven from the game against Bengaluru FC. Vinit Rai replaced Apuia Ralte in midfield and got his first start of the season. Phurba started in goal; Mehtab Singh partnered Rostyn Griffiths in central defence. They were flanked by Rahul Bheke and Vignesh. Vinit Rai partnered the creative Ahmed Jahouh and the influential Greg Stewart in midfield. Jorge Pereyra Diaz was leading the line for the Islanders. He was flanked by Lallianzuala Chhangte on the right and Bipin Singh on the left wing of the Mumbai City FC attack.
The Islanders took to the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in their new 2022/23 PUMA away kit for the first time this season. Des Buckingham’s side started the game on the front foot and from the first whistle were looking to pin NorthEast United FC back in their own half.
Mumbai City FC’s aggressive approach led to the first chance in the 6th minute of the game. Chhangte perfectly controlled the ball from a diagonal pass on the right wing. He pulled it back for an on-rushing Greg Stewart right on the edge of the box into space. Unfortunately, Stewart’s following shot was right at the NorthEast United keeper.
Mumbai City FC took the lead in the 10th minute of the game through a penalty that was convincingly converted by Ahmed Jahouh. After Greg Stewart was brought down on the edge of the box, a penalty was awarded to the Islanders. Ahmed Jahouh stepped up to convert the spot kick to make it 1-0 for the Islanders early on in the game.
NorthEast United FC, however, equalized soon after in the 17th minute. A loose pass from Mehtab Singh was latched on to by Romain Phillipoteaux for NorthEast United in midfield. He played a smart through ball to Parthib Gogoi who drifted into the Islanders’ box and dummied Griffiths to make space for himself. He then fired the ball into the roof of the net past Phurba Lachenpa to make it 1-1 for the Highlanders.
The Islanders looked to restore their lead right from the restart. In the 19th minute, Jahouh released Bipin on the left wing with a quickly taken freekick. Bipin then put a great cross in towards Chhangte, whose header was just wide of the target.
The Islanders created another chance in the 21st minute of the game. Greg Stewart received the ball on the right wing and tee’d up Ahmed Jahouh on the edge of the right side of the box. The Morroccan’s first-time curling effort went just wide of the left corner of the Highlanders’ goal, as Mumbai City FC looked certain to retake the lead.
In the 27th minute of the game, they did just that. Jahouh stole the ball off a NorthEast United midfielder and played in Pereyra Diaz ahead of him. The Argentine then found Greg Stewart in space on the right wing, who put in an immaculate cross into the box for Bipin who was rushing into space. An unmarked Bipin calmly headed the ball into the corner to make it 2-1 in favour of the Islanders and restore their lead.
The Islanders were able to create clear-cut chances at will as NorthEast United players were losing steam. In the 36th minute of the game, Bheke released Vinit Rai on the right wing. The Assamese midfielder put in a dangerous ball into the box which was parried away by Mirshad. The ball then went to Greg Stewart, whose powerful shot from just inside the box was saved by the Highlanders’ keeper to keep the score at 2-1.
Mumbai City FC carved another chance in the 42nd minute of the game, which turned out to be the last chance of the first half. Some clever exchanges between the Islanders’ players led to an opportunity for Greg Stewart who fired a shot just wide of the goal.
Soon after the first half came to an end at 2-1 in favour of the Islanders who had thoroughly dominated NorthEast United FC in the first 45 minutes of the game.
From the restart, the Islanders looked to double their lead and did so in fine fashion. In the 47th minute, Bipin Singh drove into the box and fired in a shot from his left which was parried by Mirshad but caused all sorts of confusion in the six-yard box. Jorge Pereyra Diaz, as he often is, was at the right place at the right time and poked the ball into the net to make it 3-1 in favour of the Islanders.
The Highlanders looked shell-shocked after the restart and were really struggling to carve out chances against a resolute Mumbai City FC side.
Marco Balbul made a double substitution soon after in the hopes of injecting some energy and impetus into his side. In the 59th minute, he brought on new signing Wilmar Jordan and Md Irshad for Jon and Chhara respectively.
The double substitution for NorthEast United FC had an almost instant effect. Some neat exchanges between the Highlanders attackers in the 61st minute led to their best chance of the game as Irshad was played into space on the right side of the Islanders’ penalty box. However, he failed to capitalize as he fired his shot into the side netting.
Soon after Des Buckingham made a double substitution of his own in the 66th minute as he brought on Noguera and Rowllin for Pereyra Diaz and Vinit Rai respectively.
Noguera had an almost instant impact after coming on. Chhangte combined expertly with the Spaniard in the 71st minute and found himself in space near the opposition’s penalty box. He fired a great shot that was saved by Mirshad, who was making sure that the Islanders do not establish an unassailable lead.
Mumbai City FC were constantly pushing NorthEast United FC back as they were searching for their 4th goal of the game. In the 76th minute, they came very close to doing so as they hit the crossbar. Superb passing between the Islanders players allowed Greg into space just inside the box. His subsequent shot crashed off the crossbar as the scores still read 3-1 in favour of the Islanders.
NorthEast United FC made another double substitution in the 79th minute of the game. They brought on Emmanuel for Pragyan and Gani came on for Imran.
Buckingham made a substitution of his own in the 81st minute to shore things up at the back, bringing on Fall for Jahouh.
In the dying embers of the game, the NorthEast United FC players looked haggard, while the Islanders were still looking to score more goals. In the 87th minute of the game, Greg drove into the box looking for the goal his performance deserved. He played a smart 1-2 with Bipin and tried curling the ball into the corner from the return to the ball, but it was caught by Mirshad.
Immediately after, Chhangte made way for Vikram Partap Singh in the 88th minute of the game as Buckingham made his final change of the game.
The final chance of the game came in the 91st minute right at the end for the Islanders. A swift counter attack saw Vikram bear down on the Highlanders goal from the right. His powerful low shot however was saved by Mirshad.
Soon after the referee blew the final whistle of the game as Mumbai City FC registered a comfortable 3-1 victory against NorthEast United FC away from home.
Mumbai City FC return home next week to take on FC Goa at the Mumbai Football Arena on December 1.