Mumbai City FC recorded an emphatic 6-2 win over Chennaiyin FC in their third away game of the season. After a slow start to the game and going 0-2 down in the first half, the Islanders showcased their fighting spirit to score six past Debjit Majumder in the Chennaiyin FC goal. Coach Buckingham’s smart tactical tweaks in the second half made sure that the Marina Machans could not find a way back into the game.
Des Buckingham named one change to his starting eleven from the game against ATK Mohun Bagan. Mandar Rao Dessai returned to the starting line-up in place of Sanjeev Stalin. Phurba started in goal; Mehtab Singh partnered Rostyn Griffiths in central defence. They were flanked by Rahul Bheke and Mandar Rao Dessai. Apuia Ralte was partnered with the creative Ahmed Jahouh and the dynamic Greg Stewart in his now familiar midfield role. 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 started the game really well. They were retaining the ball expertly in the heavy downpour, despite the high intensity pressure that Chennaiyin FC players were putting them under. As Mumbai City FC were keeping the ball well, they were eager to take the lead and were looking to pin the Marina Machans back into their half.
The first chance of the game broke the way of the Islanders in the 4th minute of the game. Greg Stewart found Mandar on the left wing, who had gone beyond Bipin into space. Mandar then put a sumptuous low ball across the penalty box to find Chhangte, whose shot was deflected off a Chennaiyin FC defender and went out for a corner.
The tactics of Thomas Bradric became clear after the first 15 minutes of the game. Chennaiyin FC were sitting back in their own half and looking to break on the counter, hoping to use the holdup play of Sliskovic to attack.
Despite looking more dangerous going forward and retaining the ball really well, the Islanders went behind in the 19th minute against the run of play. A corner for Marina Machans was headed back into the centre of the box at the far post towards an unmarked Sliskovic. Petar Sliskovic nodded the ball past Phurba from close range to hand Chennaiyin FC the lead as the scores read 1-0.
The game broke into life after the 20th minute. Mumbai City FC’s passing became slicker in the hopes of breaking down the Chennaiyin FC defence. In the 25th minute the Islanders carved out a chance to equalise. Stewart dribbled past a few Chennaiyin FC players down the middle and found Mandar again on the left. He found Bipin with a cheeky pass in space but the Islanders’ record scorer’s shot was deflected out for another corner for Mumbai City FC.
The game was flowing seamlessly after the first goal. The next chance of the game broke the way of Chennaiyin FC in the 29th minute of the game. Prasanth made his way into space on the right wing with the ball. He then played in Ajith who crossed towards Sliskovic, but his shot was wayward and scores remained at 1-0.
Soon after, Chennaiyin FC did manage to double their lead in the 31st minute through Nasser El Khayati. Sliskovic was found with a long ball in the hope of countering the Islanders, he held the ball well right outside the Mumbai City FC box waiting for players to go beyond him into space. He calmly set up El Khayati, who made his way into the box from the right wing. He calmly slotted the ball into the net to make it 2-0 for Chennaiyin FC.
After the restart the Islanders looked motivated to go and get a goal. They did so immediately as in the 32nd minute of the game the Islanders pulled a goal back through Jorge Pereyra Diaz. Stewart showed all his skill on the right wing and carried the ball to the by-line to chip it towards the centre of the box. He found an unmarked Jorge Pereyra Diaz, who expertly headed the ball into the net with an accurate header. The scores read 2-1, as Mumbai City FC’s fightback had started.
The Islanders were making it very hard for Chennaiyin FC to get the ball after their goal. Mumbai City FC constantly kept pushing them back into an extremely defensive position not letting them come out of their half.
The relentless pressure by the Islanders soon paid dividends in the added time at the end of the first half. They were awarded a penalty in added time after Debjit crashed into the back of Apuia in the box in the 46th minute of the game. The consequent penalty was turned in calmly by Stewart from the spot, as the scores now read 2-2.
The referee called an end to the first half soon after as both teams went into the break with 2 goals apiece. Thomas Bradric must have been fuming after his side gave up a two-goal lead to Des Buckingham’s Mumbai City FC in the first half as the scores read 2-2.
Coach Buckingham made two half time substitutions as he looked to change his system a little in the hope of taking the lead in the second half. He brought on Vinit Rai for Apuia in midfield and Vignesh for Mandar in defence.
Mumbai City FC looked eager to take the lead after the break. Their half time substitutions had an almost instant impact as they made it 3-2 through Vinit Rai in the 48th minute of the game. A brilliant intelligent pass by Stewart found Bipin on the left who squared the ball well into the centre of the box. Bipin’s ball found an on-rushing Vinit Rai in the centre of the box who lashed the ball in to make it 3-2 for the Islanders. The fightback was complete by the Islanders but they wanted to score more goals to put the game to bed.
The Chennaiyin FC defence looked rattled along with Debjit who looked completely shell shocked in goal. In the 60th Vignesh made it 4-2 for the Islanders with a superb low strike from outside the box. A cross from Jahouh from the right wing was cleared by Chennaiyin FC but the ball fell at the feet of Vignesh who volleyed the ball into the net through a sea of players.
In the 62nd minute both coaches made substitutions. Des Buckingham brought on Noguera for Jorge Pereyra Diaz who started the Islanders fightback with a pin point header. Chennaiyin FC made a double substitution as they brought on Sajid and Vincy for Prasanth and Rahim respectively.
Buckingham’s tactical tweaks were paying immediate dividends. Noguera scored soon after coming on in the 66th minute to make it 5-2 in favour of the Islanders. Bipin broke into the box and passed it to Noguera into space on the left side of the box. Noguera’s snapshot deflected past Debjit as the scores read 5-2 and the Islanders were running away with the game.
In the 69th minute, Buckingham made another substitution for the Islanders this time to secure up defensively as he brought on Fall for Jahouh. Which prompted a slight change in shape for the Islanders.
In the 74th minute Thomas Bradric made a double substitution to inject some energy into his team. He brought on Jobby and Suhail for El Khayati and Thappa respectively.
Right after coming on Jobby himself had an immediate impact. He forced a brilliant save out of Phurba in the 75th minute, who acrobatically denied Jobby. He struck a powerful shot creeping into the near post of the Islanders goal, but Lachenpa made sure it remained 5-2 in favour of Mumbai City FC.
Chennaiyin FC made their final change of the night in the 81st minute as they brought on Edwin for Ajith hoping to find a way back into the game. Soon after in the 85th minute Mumbai City FC also made their final change of the night as they brought on Sanjeev Stalin for Captain Rahul Bheke.
In the last 5 minutes both sets of players looked absolutely drained specially the Marina Machans who had been chasing the ball since the start of the game. This allowed Bipin the final chance of the game in the added time at the end of the second half in the 92nd minute. Bipin latched on to a long ball and went past a Chennaiyin FC defender to bear down on goal. He dummied Debjit and slotted the ball into an empty net to make it 6-2 for the Islanders. The Islanders record scorer made it 6-2 in added time to cap off a phenomenal fightback by the Islanders after a relatively slow start to the game.
The referee blew the final whistle of the game soon after as the Islanders recorded the biggest win of the 2022/23 Indian Super League season to continue their unbeaten streak in the league.