A night of seven red cards witnesses Mumbai City end Mohun Bagan Super Giant’s unbeaten run with a 2-1 win
Jason Cummings opened the scoreline for the visitors but the controversial saga eventually led to their first defeat of the 2023-24 Indian Super League season. Goals from Greg Stewart and Bipin Singh helped Petr Kratky bag the first win of his ISL managerial career.
After two consecutive goalless draws, the Islanders gaffer was forced to revert to the Islanders’ favorite 4-2-3-1 formation against the arch-rivals. Kratky also brought back the likes of Rostyn Griffiths and Lallianzuala Chhangte in place of Tiri and Jayesh Rane.
Meanwhile, Juan Ferrando turned up with two changes in his Starting XI from the previous game, and both of the changes were made in the offensive department. Manvir Singh replaced Kiyan Nassiri while Hugo Boumous took the playmaking responsibilities in the 3-4-1-2 formation replacing Armando Sadiku.
MBSG took the first kick of the game and their initial movements depicted their intentions of keeping ball possession and progressing steadily rather than going for early attacks. The action of the first 10 minutes passed with both sides sticking to the same approach and not allowing the opposition to trespass the guard.
The first major turning point of the game came in the 13th minute when the home team was down to 10 men on the battlefield. It was the young left-back Akash Mishra who was penalized by the referee with a straight red card for fouling Manvir with a rough tackle from the back. Reacting to the early crisis, Kratky used his first substitution sacrificing Chhangte to bring Valpuia in order to restrengthen the defense.
It did not take much time for the visitors to capitalize on the numerical advantage and break the deadlock. In the 25th minute, the breakthrough move was instigated from the left flank by the MBSG starlet Liston Colaco who drove the ball inside the box and found Jason Cummings who brought the Mariners into the driving seat with a calm finish.
However, the hosts were not in the mood to leave the battlefield for the half-time break upon trailing behind on a 0-1 scoreline. The Sky Blues staged a comeback in the 44th minute and it was Greg Stewart who found the back of the net with a headed effort after a neat cross from Bipin Singh.
The numerical advantage could not stand longer for the Green and Maroons as yet another full-back Asish Rai was shown a red card for his sliding tackle on Jorge Pereyra Diaz in the 55th minute.
The wrath of suspensions for the Mariners did not stop here as another MBSG player Liston Colaco was sent off from the field for arguing with the referee just a couple of minutes later. At this point, the tables were turned and the visitors who were enjoying the advantage suddenly found themselves down to only 9 men on the pitch.
The task of keeping the Islanders away from the breakthrough was quite tough for the outnumbered Mariners as the home team eventually made it 2-1 in the 73rd minute. Bipin who assisted the opening goal graced his name on the scoresheet as the winger played a one-two pass with Stewart before his shot deflected into the back of the net after hitting Anirudh Thapa.
Just when the play was inching towards a swift end, another twist in the story occurred as the goalscorer Greg Stewart also had to leave the pitch after being yellow-carded for the second time in this match.
Despite attracting plenty of drama in the decisive moments, Mumbai City somehow managed to defend their one-goal lead and finished off 2-1 at the final whistle. A tussle broke out between the players of both sides and the trio of Vikram Pratap Singh, Hector Yuste, and Rahul Bheke were shown a red card after the full-time whistle.
This result may have not made any immediate impact on the points table but the significance of these three points was invaluable for the Islanders against an invincible visiting side. Despite having the same number of points (19), the Kolkata-based outfit retains their third position with a superior goal difference and a game in hand as well.
The Mariners, ravaged by injuries and suspensions will face league leaders Goa on Saturday before Kerala Blasters will host a weakened Mumbai City side in the late kick-off on Christmas Eve.