The match saw Mumbai City head coach Des Buckingham, making three crucial changes from their previous game, with Mohammad Nawaz replacing the suspended Lachenpa in goal, Roystn Griffiths stepping in for the injured El Khayati, and Bipin Singh earning a place in the starting XI over Lallianzuala Chhangte.
The game started with fireworks right from the first minute, as Apuia set up Vikram Singh for a shot from outside the box that narrowly missed the target. In response, Punjab’s Madih Talal attempted a free-kick from 30 yards out, but it sailed wide. The 10th minute saw Madih Talal embarking on a deep run from the left and delivering a cross to Juan Mera, whose left-footed shot from outside the box was comfortably collected by the Islanders’ keeper Mohammad Nawaz.
In the 12th minute, a long pass from Greg found Bipin on the left wing. Bipin embarked on a forward run and delivered a cross to the far post, where Vikram headed the ball into the box, only for the Punjab defense to clear their lines. Punjab FC had a golden opportunity in the 15th minute when Juan Mera’s cross found Luka Majcen, whose header was blocked by the keeper’s legs. Krishnanandha Singh missed a crucial chance as he blasted the rebound wide.
In the 20th minute, Rostyn Griffiths was shown a yellow card for a foul on Krishnanandha. Madih Talal took the ensuing free-kick from outside the box, which was blocked away. In the 22nd minute, Mumbai launched a counter-attack from a Punjab corner. Greg attempted to send Vikram on goal with an outside-of-the-boot cross that required skill and pace to reach. Vikram did well to get to it, turned his marker inside out, and delivered a low cross that Jorge Pereyra Díaz connected first-time. However, Punjab’s keeper Ravi Kumar made a crucial save to keep his side level.
Greg Stewart sent a free-kick into the box in the 27th minute, which was headed across the goal by Rostyn but Luka Majcen headed it wide, right in front of Pereyra Díaz who was lurking. The ensuing corner was cleared away by the Punjab defense.
In the 37th minute, Krishnanandha won the ball from Greg Stewart with a block, and the loose ball fell to Luka Majcen. Majcen advanced and unleashed a powerful low shot from outside the box into the left corner of the net, giving Punjab FC a 1-0 lead.
Mumbai immediately went on the attack, with Vikram sending in a dangerous cross into the box in the 39th minute. The ball was headed away by Suresh Meitei just in time. The subsequent corner, taken by Greg Stewart, saw a long cross delivered to the far post, where it was headed across the box by Mehtab. However, Punjab’s keeper, Ravi Kumar, collected it effectively to thwart the attack.
Tensions flared in the closing minutes of the half as Greg Stewart was brought down inside the box. The referee initially judged it as simulation and booked him. As Mumbai players argued the decision, the referee brought out his cards again, showing yellow cards to Rahul Bheke and Mehtab Singh too.
Moments later, Mumbai went on another attack, with Vikram crossing for Jorge Pereyra Díaz, who let the ball go to Apuia at the edge of the box. Apuia’s shot towards the top-right corner was well saved by Keeper Ravi Kumar. Just before the halftime whistle, Pereyra Diaz was brought down outside the box, resulting in a yellow card for Punjab’s Dimitrios Chatziisaias. The ensuing free-kick was blocked and cleared by the Punjab defense.
At halftime, the score was 1-0 in favor of Punjab FC. Mumbai City FC came into the second half with a determined spirit, with Coach Des Buckingham making an immediate change as Chhangte replaced Vikram Singh.
In the 51st minute, Madih Talal and Luka Majcen combined in a counter-attack, but Madih’s final shot went over the bar. Mumbai had their moments as well, with JPD driving into the left side of the box in the 53rd minute, cutting the ball across the line. The Punjab defense cleared it, but only as far as Apuia inside the box. Apuia’s shot from the edge of the box was punched away to safety by the keeper, Ravi Kumar.
Mumbai continued to apply pressure, with Bipin laying the ball for Chhangte in the 57th minute. Chhangte cut inside and drilled in a shot that was blocked, with the rebound falling to Apuia just outside the box. Apuia’s shot hit the top bar and went out in a close call.
In the 59th minute, Akash Mishra made a run down the left flank, chesting down a long ball and delivering a cross across the edge of the box. Apuia hit the ball, which deflected wide off a defender, but the referee called it a goal kick.
Mumbai decided to make a midfield change in the 62nd minute, as Mishra was replaced by Jayesh Rane. Mumbai’s relentless attacking continued in the 64th minute, with Lallianzuala Chhangte winning the ball on the left, beating a couple of defenders, and laying it off for Apuia, whose shot from outside the box was just wide of the target.
In the 68th minute, Apuia played the ball to Griffiths, who had space in front of him and decided to take an ambitious shot from 30 yards out. However, the ball soared over the bar.
Mumbai continued to pile on the pressure and, in the 71st minute, Greg and Chhangte combined again to put Punjab’s defense under duress, creating a melee inside the box. Mumbai was eventually awarded a corner, but it did not result in a goal.
In the 73rd minute, Mumbai maintained their attacking momentum, with Greg delivering a sumptuous cross inside the box that was headed just over the bar by Jayesh Rane, who had made a late run into the box.
Mumbai’s persistence finally paid off in the 82nd minute as they found the equalizer. Chhangte does well to keep the ball in play on the left and as the move continues Jayesh Rane sets up Greg Stewart for a short from outside the box, Stewart doesn’t disappoint with a strike to find the bottom right corner to make it 1-1.
Just a minute later, in the 83rd minute, Mumbai seized the lead. A swift counter-attack saw Rane release Chhangte through on goal. Chhangte advanced into the box from the left wing before expertly cutting the ball across to Pereyra Díaz, who calmly slotted the ball into the empty net with the keeper off his line sending the fans into a frenzy.
In the 87th minute, Punjab launched an attack in an attempt to make a comeback, as Daniel Lalhlimpuia delivered a cross from the left that found Brandon’s header. However, Tiri was in the right place to block it away before Nawaz came off his line to punch it to safety.
With a lead to protect, Coach Buckingham made a substitution as Vinit Rai replaced Jorge Pereyra Díaz to slow the pace of the game.
In the 91st minute, Bheke sent a long ball over the Punjab defense that Jayesh Rane caught up with just before it went over the line. Rane sent in a cross that was collected by Punjab Keeper Ravi Kumar. A minute later, Jayesh Rane was booked for a tackle on Punjab defender Nitesh Darjee.
Mumbai City FC had another big chance in the 96th minute, when a long ball found Greg Stewart, who headed it forward. Bipin Singh won the ball on the right ahead of the Punjab defender and delivered a cross into the box to find an unmarked Chhangte. Chhangte had the time and space, but his shot went over the bar.
The final whistle blew, and Mumbai City FC claimed a remarkable 2-1 comeback victory over Punjab FC. With this win, Mumbai City FC would carry a confidence boost into their upcoming AFC Champions League campaign, scheduled for November 6, where they will face Al Hilal SFC in the home leg at the DY Patil Stadium in Nerul.
— Arunava Chaudhuri | arunfoot (@Arunfoot) November 2, 2023