Al-Jazira rides on Ali Mabkhout’s penalty to defeat Mumbai City 1-0

Ali Mabkhout’s strike secured victory for Al-Jazira

Mumbai City went down fighting against the United Arab Emirates champions Al-Jazira on Wednesday as they suffered a 1-0 defeat in their third 2021/22 AFC Champions League game. Ali Mabkhout’s goal from the penalty spot turned out to be a differentiator between these two sides.

Des Buckingham made a couple of changes to his team following a historic win against Iraq’s Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya. Mandar Rao Dessai was replaced by Vignesh Dakshinamurthy in defense, while in the middle of the park, Brad Inman got the nod ahead of Vikram Pratap Singh.

On the other hand, Dutch tactician Marcel Keizer made only one change to his team that lost 3-0 against Al-Shabab. He opted for an ultra-attacking set-up as defender Mohammed Rabii made way for Brazilian midfielder Bruno.

The UAE outfit was desperate for a win in this match and pretty understandably, they started the game on the front foot. The first real chance of the game came in the 10th minute when Bruno laid off a header pass for Zayed Sultan, but the youngster failed to keep his shot on target.

Eight minutes later, Bruno himself found himself in a great position to score when an Abdalla Ramadan pass found him unmarked inside the box, but his strike was saved by the Islanders’ custodian Phurba Lachenpa.

Mumbai City’s first opportunity came just a couple of minutes before the half-hour mark when Bipin Singh unleashed a shot after receiving a pass from Diego Mauricio, but Al-Jazira’s goalkeeper Ali Khasif was alert to avert the danger.

That was about it for the Islanders, as Keizer’s team once again took control of the game. Mabkhout had his shot blocked by Buckingham’s defenders in the 34th minute, whilst four minutes later, Abdoulaye Diaby’s shot was saved by Phurba.

However, the breakthrough eventually came a couple of minutes later when Al Ankabout were awarded a penalty as Mumbai City’s substitute Mehtab Singh handled the ball inside the box. For a player who has played over 100 international matches, Mabkhout was never going to miss from the spot.

Diego Mauricio was denied a penalty

Diego Mauricio was denied a penalty

Buckingham’s team could have made an instant comeback was Brazilian striker Mauricio was brought down inside the box only a minute later. However, not only did the referee reject Mumbai City’s penalty appeals but also handed Mauricio a yellow card for simulation. Inman went for glory just seconds before half-time, but once again, Khasif came to Al-Jazira’s rescue.

The Emirati side had the better start to the second half and could have doubled their lead only four minutes after the resumption when striker Zayed Al Ameri pulled the trigger, but he failed to beat Phurba in goal.

The next few minutes were played out majorly in the middle until Mumbai City almost caught Keizer’s men napping just before the hour-mark. Lallianzuala Chhangte’s perfectly weighted cross from a corner found Mourtada Fall in space inside the box, but the Senegalese central defender failed to keep his header on target.

Al-Jazira tried to retaliate immediately as Diaby went for glory once again, but Phurba came up trumps in that battle. The Islanders predominantly targeted set-pieces for their attempts and from another such corner in the 74th minute, Ahmed Jahouh found substitute Vikram. However, like Fall, he too could not keep his header on target.

The youngster had another attempt five minutes later, this time with his right foot, but his shot was blocked by an Al-Jazira player. The last few minutes saw Buckingham’s men piling on the pressure, albeit with no end product. Raynier Fernandes went for a shot in the 90th minute, while only seconds later, Fall too had a crack at goal. However, while the first attempt was off-target, the second was saved by Khasif.

Mumbai City has been demoted to the last position in their group with this defeat, but they will get a shot at redemption when they take on Al-Jazira for the return leg tie on Monday, which will be played at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium.