Clinical Mohun Bagan Super Giant outmuscle Mumbai City to make it to the semi-final
Mohun Bagan Super Giant became the fourth team to qualify for the 2023 Durand Cup semi-final, as they handed Mumbai City a 3-1 defeat on Sunday. Jason Cummings, Manvir Singh and Anwar Ali were on target for the Mariners, while Jorge Pereyra Diaz was the lone scorer for the Islanders.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Juan Ferrando made four changes to the team that suffered a 0-1 defeat in the Kolkata Derby. Ashique Kuruniyan, Hector Yuste, Sahal Abdul Samad, and Cummings were roped into the starting XI, with Asish Rai, Brendan Hamill, Glan Martins, and Liston Colaco making way.
On the other hand, Mumbai City head coach Des Buckingham made only one change to the team that defeated the Indian Navy in their last group stage game. New signing Akash Mishra was handed a start, with youngster Vikram Pratap Singh dropping down to the bench.
The Mariners had a much better start, which took all but 7 minutes to pay off, in the form of a penalty. Trying to get past the Mumbai City goalkeeper, Cummings was brought down inside the box by Phurba Lachenpa. The Australian striker took responsibility on his shoulders and made no mistake in firing his team ahead in the game.
A second goal could have arrived immediately, with Lachenpa being the guilty party yet again. The custodian made a mess of a freekick from Hugo Boumous, but a Mumbai defender came to his rescue.
The Islanders’ first opportunity arrived in the 16th minute from a corner. While the initial attempt was cleared by one of Ferrando’s defenders, the ball then fell for Lallianzuala Chhangte, whose attempt lacked accuracy.
Cummings’ goal happened to be a wake-up call for Mumbai City, as the next few minutes saw the defending League Winners’ Shield-winning team creating plenty of chances. In the 23rd minute, Bipin Singh found Diaz with a pass, but the Argentine’s attempt was saved by Vishal Kaith.
The continuous attacks eventually came good for Mumbai City in the 28th minute. Alberto Noguera found himself in space down the left flank and launched a cross, which should have been an easy grab for Kaith but the Mohun Bagan Super Giant custodian lost control, leading to Diaz netting the ball into an empty net.
Unfortunately for Diaz, the joy lasted only for two minutes as the Mariners reclaimed their lead instantly. After the initial attempt from a corner was cleared away, Boumous floated in a cross from the left flank, which was then headed home by Manvir.
Mumbai City could have replicated the same as they had the chance of scoring just five minutes later. A corner from Greg Stewart ended up on Mehtab Singh’s feet, but the centre-back could only find the side-netting with his shot.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant had the chance of doubling their advantage just at the end of the first half when Apuia Ralte got dispossessed at a critical position. Having already scored, Manvir made a darting run full of confidence, but this time around, his attempt was not on target.
The second half did not have as quickfire a start as the first half, although Mumbai City could have restored parity just seven minutes into the period. Stewart’s freekick from a dangerous position looked menacing but it did not trouble Kaith.
The Scottish attacker was pulling the strings for Buckingham’s team, as just two minutes later, he struck another delightful left-footed shot from outside the box. This shot was even better, but still not on target.
A minute later, Stewart caused the Mohun Bagan defenders a lot of trouble once again, before Anwar brought him down inside the box. Fortunately for Ferrando, the referee was not attentive to the issue, with the Mariners escaping conceding a penalty.
Three minutes later, they had their first chance of the second half when Ashique darted past Vikram before laying off a sensational ball for Armando Sadiku, but the Albanian striker wasted the opportunity.
However, that miss did not matter for his team, as the third Mariners goal eventually arrived in the 63rd minute. After receiving a pass from Manvir, Ashique floated in a cross which was headed home by Anwar.
Given that they faced a do-or-die scenario, Mumbai tried to throw the kitchen sink at Mohun Bagan Super Giant, but it did not work. Apuia, Rahul Bheke and Vikram all had opportunities, but all of their attempts were off-target.
The biggest chance fell for Vikram in the 83rd minute when he went past his marker down the left flank before pulling the trigger, but he missed the target by only a few inches.
In the second minute of additional time, a fantastic corner found Mehtab in space again, but for the second time, the defender could not score with his headed attempt. In the last minute of the game, Stewart had not one, but two attempts, but he could not trouble Kaith with either of those attempts.
Mohun Bagan Super Giant will now face Goa in the second semi-final. The match will be played on Thursday at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan.