Mumbai City FC suffered a 0-6 loss to Al-Shabab FC at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium on Friday, April 22. It was a night marred with frustration and misfortune as the Islanders were downed by the White Lions.
Coach Des Buckingham named two changes in the line-up, due to suspension. Both Raynier Fernandes and Igor Angulo got their first starts in the competition in place of Vinit Rai and Diego Mauricio.
The match started on pretty even footing, with both sides showing great attacking intent and composure on the ball. Apart from a few shots from unfavorable angles, the first real chance came for Mumbai City FC in the 14th minute.
It was a by-product of a high press unleashed by Raynier, Igor and Apuia. The #45 did well to stick his foot out and poke the ball to Raynier, who was already at the edge of the box. Raynier took his chance and placed it well, but the ‘keeper was equal to it. The parried save bobbled around the box, until Apuia ran on to it and tested the goalie once again. A good couple of saves from Fawaz Al Qarni ensured that the tie remained goalless.
Al-Shabab however, got their first goal in the 18th minute. Paulinho laid the ball off to Nawaf, who played a good weighted pass to Bahebri running down the left halfspace. Mourtada Fall closed down his man, but Bahbri’s shot was accurate and beat both the defender and the goalkeeper.
Mumbai City FC tried to pull themselves back into the game with a well worked corner in the 27th minute. Chhangte drove a low pass in from the right, which was left by Apuia. Ahmed Jahouh ran on to it and took a shot, which was blocked. He got the opportunity for a rebound but his attempt was collected safely by the goalkeeper.
Al-Shabab’s second goal came eight minutes later through a misdirected clearance by Mourtada Fall. Bahebri carved his way past the midfield and Carlos Junior picked his space between the defenders. Bahebri played a lovely through ball and Junior pulled the trigger. Fall tried to clear the shot away, but he ended up slicing it into his own net.
The remainder of the first-half saw little to no action, and the scoreline remained the same for the next 20 minutes.
Al-Jawaey got his first of the night in the 51st minute, thanks to a crisp Al-Harbi pass. The full-back received the ball high and wide, and set his team-mate up behind the defensive line. Al Jawaey got past two men and charged into the six yard box. The proximity was unforgiving, and left Phurba with no chance. Inevitably, the ball went in and the scoreboard went to 3-0.
The first substitutions of the night came in the 58th minute. Mohammad Rakip and Vikram Partap came in for Mehtab and Angulo.
In the proceeding seven minutes, Al Shabab ran riot and Hattan Bahebri capped of his hat-trick with two stunning goals. The first started off with a long ball to Al Jawaey, who took on Rakip and cut in from the left. He squared it to Bahebri, who played a well-timed one-two with Nawaf. Bahebri received the ball in a good position and rifled it past Phurba for his brace.
His third goal of the night came only two minutes later. Nawaf set up Al-Ghamdi on the wing, who had raced ahead into our third. The full-back cut it back to Bahebri, who took a touch and chipped the ball deftly over his man. He took the bounce in his stride and smashed the ball into the top corner.
In the 70th minute, Vignesh and Brad Inman were subbed on for Mandar and Ahmed Jahouh.
The first yellow of the night was shown to Rahul Bheke in the 78th minute. He was penalized for fouling Nawaf, right outside the box during a promising attack.
The final goal of the night came in the 80th minute. Al Ghamdi placed a perfect ball to Bahebri who sped down the wing. He squared it to Carlos Junior, who was marked. Fall missed his interception narrowly and the Brazilian pounced to put it just past Phurba.
The Islanders turned up the heat after the goal, but it was far too late. There was a penalty appeal in the very next minute, when Vikram was chasing a ball and was shoved in the back by Nader inside the box. However, the shouts from the bench were dismissed by the referee.
Mumbai made their final substitution in the 83rd minute. Pranjal Bhumij marked his debut in the AFC Champions League as he took to the field for Bipin Singh.
A couple minutes later, the men in blue came close to scoring again. Apuia suffered an ugly foul right outside the box, and Chhangte stepped up for the free-kick. The winger picked his spot perfectly, but his shot was just a fraction too high. As a result, it ended up rattling the crossbar and bouncing away instead of hitting the net.
Despite the circumstances, Mumbai City kept pushing. In the 89th minute, Vikram nearly pulled one back. Fall intercepted the ball in midfield, and played it straight to Apuia. The midfielder back-heeled it to Inman in some space. The #8 threaded the ball to Vikram who ran into the box, and shot from a good angle. His effort was well-placed but the goalkeeper did very well to save it.
The game leaves Mumbai City FC with four points, level with Al-Jazira Club, but placed last in the group. The Islanders’ final game of the group stage will be played against Air Force Club of Iraq at the King Fahd Stadium, on April 27. The match will be played at 1:45am IST.