Mumbai City FC beat Bengaluru FC 3 goals to 1 at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Saturday. The match was a gruelling affair, but goals from Igor Angulo, Mourtada Fall and Ygor Catatau and an outstanding performance from Apuia ensured we returned home with the three points.
The starting XI for the Islanders remained unchanged since our last game, whereas Marco Pezzaiuoli rung in two changes – Prince Ibara in place of Udanta Singh, and Jayesh Rane in place of Iman Basafa.
The match was a tale of two halves – the first being more intense and physical, and the second requiring awareness and mental sharpness. Regardless, the game was eye-catching from the get go. It was Cleiton Silva who shot first, rattling the crossbar with a sumptuous volley with less than 30 seconds on the clock.
As has been the case in the last couple of games, we opened scoring within the first 10 minutes. Alan Costa of Bengaluru FC handled the ball in the box in his attempts to stop Mourtada Fall, and a penalty was awarded. Igor Angulo fired the spot-kick to the right, sending the keeper the opposite way. This brought the Spaniard to 4 goals in as many games this season.
Bengaluru FC, though, weren’t the team to sit back after conceding. The game rose in vigour, and we saw the first yellow card of the night. Suresh Singh was booked for a late challenge on Apuia – something which occurred time and again for the rest of the 90 minutes.
Around the 20th minute, a free-kick was awarded to Bengaluru FC right outside the box after Mourtada Fall allegedly fouled Cleiton in an aerial duel. The Brazilian restored parity with a curling shot from a direct free-kick.
The first substitution of the game took place only seven minutes later, as an injured Prince Ibara was replaced by Edmund Lalrindika.
With each team nullifying the other, chances were sparse until the 42nd minute. Mandar Rao Dessai’s mistimed clearance ended up catching Edmund Lalrindika near the edge of the box. BFC were given a penalty, and up stepped Sunil Chhetri. However, a brilliant save from Mohammed Nawaz denied Bengaluru FC the lead.
Half-time saw Des Buckingham make a change, bringing on Raynier Fernandes in place of Vikram Pratap Singh. After an intense first 45, both sides sought to ease into the second half gradually.
The game was peppered with long balls, and seemingly harmless fouls. But it was exactly these two things that gave Mumbai the lead in the 53rd minute. Alan Costa shoved Angulo near the half-way line, but Ahmed Jahouh and Mourtada Fall combined to make the most out of it. The number 10 delivered a delightful floated ball into the box, and the Captain headed it expertly over Gurpreet and into the net.
9 minutes later, Cassio Gabriel was subbed off for Ygor Catatau – a moment that would change the game
However, we had to wait until the 68th minute for the game to burst into life. Raynier Fernandes wormed through the defence and unleashed a powerful shot that demanded a save. Six minutes later, Jayesh Rane got close to scoring by trying to poke a headed lay-off by Chhetri. Nawaz was quick to react, diving and catching the ball assuredly.
Apuia’s stellar display came to an end in the 79th minute, as he made way for Rowllin Borges. His indomitable spirit and tenacity saw him become the Hero of the Match.
Within five minutes of The Smiling Tank coming on, we struck again to make it 3-1. Mandar’s inch perfect cross set up Angulo for a header, which ended up hitting the post. Fortunately, Ygor was quick to react and rifled it past Gurpreet with a first time finish. What followed was another one of his entertaining celebrations, giving us even more reason to want to see him on the scoresheet again.
Brad Inman and Gurkirat Singh were brought on in the final few minutes for Igor Angulo and Bipin Singh. Stoppage time also showed us some ingenious corner routines featuring Jahouh and Raynier, which we will be raring to see in our upcoming games.
With this result, we retain our top spot on the table with 9 points. Next up, we face Jamshedpur FC on Thursday, December 9 in a home game at the Fatorda.