Mumbai City FC’s superb record breaking season came to an end after Des Buckingham’s side bowed out of the 2022/23 ISL Semifinals on penalties. The Islanders showed excellent fighting spirit to overturn a 0-1 deficit with a 2-1 scoreline on the night and take the tie into a nail-biting penalty shootout. A marathon shootout ended 9-8 in favour of Bengaluru FC.
Des Buckingham made a solitary change to his starting eleven that lost to Bengaluru in the first leg at home as Rowllin Borges replaced Apuia Ralte in the Islanders’ midfield for the away leg. Phurba started in goal; Mehtab Singh partnered Mourtada Fall in central defence. They were flanked by Rahul Bheke and Vignesh in the full-back positions. The ever-composed Rowllin Borges partnered the experienced Ahmed Jahouh and the dynamic Greg Stewart in the Islanders midfield. Mumbai City FC had the electric duo of Lallianzuala Chhangte on the right and Bipin Singh on the left wing, making his 100th appearance for the Islanders in attack. Jorge Pereyra Diaz was leading the line for the Islanders against the Blues in this game.
Both teams started the game strongly with The Islanders were passing the ball well. Despite Bengaluru FC pressing them high-up the field, Mumbai City FC looked more dangerous of the two teams going forward.
Mumbai City FC won a penalty in the 8th minute of the game after Gurpreet Singh Sandhu brought down Pereyra Diaz. Bheke played in a smart ball towards Bipin Singh on the right side inside the box, but he missed the ball. Sandhu was slow to react as Pereyra Diaz got in front of the Blues keeper to steal the ball and was brought down by Sandhu as a penalty was awarded. Greg Stewart stepped up to take the penalty and tried guiding the ball into the right bottom corner but an out-stretched arm of Sandhu kept the penalty out as the scores read 0-0.
The next chance of the game broke for the Islanders in the 17th minute of the game. Vignesh got the ball near the left corner of the box, he skipped past two Bengaluru FC defenders. The left-back then put in a dangerous low cross that flashed in front of goal and headed to the back post where Chhangte was making a late run. But the ball had too much pace on it as the Islanders number 7 couldn’t get a touch to guide the ball into the net.
The Blues then scored the first goal of the game in the 22nd minute of the game against the run of play. A long diagonal ball towards the left-wing was taken down by Siva Narayanan as he dummied past Mehtab Singh outside the box. After making space for himself he crossed the ball in towards the centre of the box towards an unmarked Javi Hernandez, who calmly guided the ball into the bottom corner past Phurba. Bengaluru FC had taken the lead in the game as the scores read 1-0, and they had doubled their aggregate lead to 2-0.
Mumbai City FC looked even more determined to score after the restart. They were pushing Bengaluru FC back into their half forcing them to defend in numbers.
In the 30th minute the Islanders scored the equaliser. A cross by Bheke from right wing was chested down beautifully by Jorge Pereyra Diaz in the centre of the Blues box to set up a shot for Rowllin Borges who tried squeezing the ball in the near post but it was saved by Sandhu. But the ball fell kindly for Bipin from the save and he knocked the ball into net from point blank range to make it 1-1 in the game, and 2-1 on aggregate as the Islanders had pulled themselves back into the tie.
The Islanders were passing the ball fluidly trying to move the Blues defence to profit from the gaps left by Bengaluru FC. The next chance of the game came the way of Mumbai City in the 36th minute of the game. The ball was played across to Vignesh on the left wing, he then miscued his cross towards the far post and the ball curled over Sandhu as it hit the crossbar and out.
In the 40th minute, Bengaluru FC broke away on a dangerous counter-attack. Bruno Ramires drilled an accurate ball towards Siva in the middle. He played a smart pass to Javi who was played in behind the Mumbai City FC defence. Hernandez got his shot away but was acrobatically saved by Phurba, who made sure the scores stayed at 1-1.
Soon after the referee blew for half-time after an entertaining first period of play. The Islanders were dominating the stats and possession but the Blues looked dangerous every time they countered.
After the restart, the game was being played at a frantic pace. The first chance of the second half came for Mumbai City FC in the 46th minute of the game. Greg expertly received the ball on the right flank who then cut inside beautifully and played a reverse pass to Bipin who had taken a position centrally. Bipin got a snap shot away at goal but it was right at Sandhu who clutched the ball to his shot.
Mumbai City FC created the next chance of the game in the 51st minute of the game. Chhangte picked up the ball on the right flank and found Stewart who had made an overlapping run on the flank. Chhangte used Greg’s run as bait and played a dangerous ball towards the centre but Jhingan slid in to clear the ball before it could reach an sky blue shirt.
The next chance of the game came in the 57th minute of the game for Bengaluru FC. Siva picked up the ball in midfield on the left side and cut inside while leaving Jahouh behind. He then calmly found Javi at the far post after the Spaniard had made a late run into the box, he received the ball expertly and got his shot away that was going into the bottom corner on the opposite side. But Phurba made a brilliant save to deny Javi his second goal of the game and to make sure the aggregate score stayed at 2-1.
The Islanders took the lead in the second leg through Mehtab Singh in the 66th minute. Brilliant play by Greg Stewart on the right-flank saw him make space for himself to put a cross in. He floated the ball towards Bipin Singh at the back-post that was headed towards goal by the Islanders record goal-scorer, but Sandhu got a fingertip on header to turn behind for a corner. Greg Stewart then stepped up to take a corner from the right flank and put in an excellent ball in right on the head of Mehtab Singh who headed the ball in at the back post to make it 2-1 in the second leg and 2-2 on aggregate.
In the 69th minute, Lachenpa was called into making a world-class save again. Roshan ran with the ball on the left-flank while playing a smart low ball into Javi’s feet in the middle of the box. The Spaniard then managed to make space for himself and got his shot away but it was impeccably saved by Phurba, who made sure the scores stayed at 2-1.
A minute later in the 70th minute of the game, Simon Grayson made his first substitution of the game as he brought off Siva for Sunil Chhetri.
The game was becoming more and more frantic by the minute, as the ball was exchanging hands constantly in midfield. The Islanders made their first change of the game in the 80th minute to add some energy up front as Buckingham brought off Bipin Singh and replaced him with Vikram Partap Singh.
The next clear chance of the game broke the way of the Islanders in the 84th minute. Jahouh picked the ball deep on the right side and launched a low ball towards Jorge Pereyra Diaz,who was making a run towards the near post. The Argentine tried flicking the ball past Sandhu but got his contact slightly wrong as the ball flashed in front of the face of the goal and almost sneaked in at the far post.
The last chance regulation time also came for the Islanders in added time right at the end of the second half. Greg beautifully constructed playaround the Blues box and played the ball out to Chhangte on the left wing. Chhnagte then dummied past a few Bengaluru FC defenders and crossed the ballin towards Vikram at the far post. He took the ball down and put a delicious ball back in towards Bheke, who got a flicked header on the ball that nearly sneaked in at the far post.
Soon after the referee blew to signal the end of 90 minutes as the game was headed into extra time with the aggregate score at 2-2.
Before extra time started Des Buckingham made his second change of the game as he brought off Rowllin Borges for Vinit Rai to add some fresh legs in midfield.
In the 95th minute, Simon Grayson made a double change as he brought off Bruno Silva and Aleksander Jovanovic and replaced them with Alan Costa and Pablo Perez respectively.
The first clear chance of extra time was created by Mumbai City FC in the 99th minute. The ball was played out wide to Vikram Partap Singh on the right flank, he delivered a superb low-ball towards Jorge Pereyra Diaz who was making a run to the front post. The Argentine flicked the ball hoping to guide into the far corner but got it just wrong as it went just wide. The aggregate score still read 2-2.
Bengaluru FC also looked threatening in extra time and got a chance to take the lead in the 102nd minute of the game. Pablo Perez got the ballon the far side. He put in a sumptuous cross for Roy Kishna at the back post who’s header was brilliantly kept out by Phurba Lachenpa who showed cat-like reflexes to keep the ball from going in.
In the 105th minute Buckingham made another substitution as he brought on Mandar Rao Dessai in place of Vignesh at left-back. Soon after the referee blew for half-time as the first period of extra time was over.
Bengaluru FC started the second period of extra time on the front foot. In the 107th minute they created the first chance of the second period of extra time. Javi put in a delicious cross towards the ball that was spilled by Lachenpa when he tried catching it. Pablo Perez got a quick shot away from the error but the Mumbai City FC custodian showed excellent reflexes again to get a palm to the follow up shot and keep the Blues from taking the lead.
The next chance of the game came the way of the Islanders in the 109th minute of the game. Greg played it short to Vikram from a corner from the right. The Scotman then got the ball back and put in a good ball towards Jorge Pereyra Diaz, who got power on the ball with his header but it went just over the bar.
The Islanders got another chance in the 144th minute of the game. Bheke delivered an accurate cross from the right flank which Snadhu rushed out to collect but spilled it. The ball fell kindly for Chhangte who slightly mis-cued his shot and ball trodden onto Greg Stewart, who got his shot away but it was blocked by Jhingan off line to make sure the Islanders did not take the lead on aggregate score.
Simon Grayson made the next change of the game in the 119th minute of the game as penalties beckoned, he brought off Roshan for Parag Shrivas in the dying embers of the game.
The last chance of extra time came for the Blues in the 120th minute of the game. Javier Hernandez delivered a smart ball from the right towards Alan Costa who had made his way forward to join the attack. He rose the highest to get his head on the ball, which was acrobatically kept out by Phurba Lachenpa.
The referee blew for the end of extra time as the game headed into a nail-biting penalty shootout.
Stewart stepped up to take the first penalty of the shootout and calmly slotted the ball past Sandhu to put the Islanders into the lead in the shootout. Javi stepped up to take the first penalty for the Blues and scored too, to make it 1-1 in the shootout.
Diaz was the second penalty taker for Mumbai City FC and he thrashed the ball past Sandhu to make it 2-1 for the Islanders. Roy Kishna was the second taker for Bengaluru FC and he found the net with ease too.
At 2-2, Chhangte stepped up and slotted the ball calmly in the bottom corner to make it 3-2 in the shootout in favour of the Islanders. Alan Costa stepped up to take the subsequent spot kick and smashed the ball in to make it 3-3.
Jahouh was the 4th taker and scored his penalty with ease, but then Chettri scored for the Blues from the following spot-kick to make it 4-4 in the shootout.
Bheke scored the crucial 5th penalty but the shootout went into sudden death as Pablo Perez scored the 5th penalty for the Blues to make it 5-5.
No player had missed a penalty till the 9th spot-kick. Mehtab Singh was the 9th taker for the Islanders, his shot from the spot kick was saved by Sandhu. Jhingan scored the following spot-kick to make 9-8 in favour of the Blues in the shootout and book Bengaluru FC’s spot in the final of the ISL.
A performance to be proud of from the Islanders as Mumbai City’s iconic ISL campaign comes to an end. The Islanders will next regroup for the Super Cup.