Greg Stewart’s masterclass aids Mumbai City in taming Kerala Blasters 2-0￼
Mumbai City dished out a clinical performance as Greg Stewart shined the brightest to help his side to an easy 2-0 win over Kerala Blasters. Des Buckingham’s side travelled to Kochi and managed to silence the home crowd which is no easy task.
The opening 15 minutes saw both sides test each other although the Islanders had much more bite about themselves. They were unbeaten ever since the new ISL season began and that showed in terms of the difference in quality between the two sides.
There was a chance for Lallianzuala Chhangte in the 20th minute, he made a mazy run into the box and earned a corner. Mumbai City was much better to the second balls, and it showed when the visitors took the lead.
From the resulting corner off Chhangte’s chance, a failed clearance saw the ball fall kindly to Mehtab Singh’s feet who rattled the net with his weaker left foot to silence the crowd inside the stadium.
Buckingham’s side was looking a lot more threatening than their opponents. They continued to dominate the lion’s share of the ball, and dictate the proceedings. Near the half-hour mark, the Islanders had the chance to double their lead. Chhangte was sent through on goal but couldn’t finish with Victor Mongil making an excellent last-ditch challenge.
The danger wasn’t gone though as Stewart played a ball through to Jorge Pereyra Diaz who was alive to the danger. Stewart overcooked his pass, but his striker won the half-challenge against Marko Leskovic and raced through on goal with just Prabhsukhan Gill to beat and he poked the ball home to celebrate a goal against his former side.
There was some response from the Tuskers as well, Sahal Abdul Samad was sent through on goal but Phurba Lachenpa saved it, and shortly afterwards the custodian was on hand to save a free-kick from Adrian Luna.
Stewart was causing all sorts of trouble to the Blasters as he fed his striker but the ball deflected and fell to Bipin Singh who tried to cut it inside as Gill came rushing out but couldn’t combine with Pereyra.
Stewart was at the heart of another attack with five minutes remaining in the half. He released Bipin whose deflected cross fell kindly to Pereyra who blasted his effort wide off the upright. Then, the hosts had a half chance through Rahul KP as he tested Lachenpa close to the half-time mark but the custodian saved the effort with ease.
Buckingham’s side kicked off the second half from where they left off as the dangerman Stewart tested Gill from outside the box who was equal to the task.
The best chance of the game for the Blasters fell to Dimitrios Diamantakos who could only guide his headed chance narrowly wide of the post after he was expertly found by Puitea.
The Greek striker was alert to a subsequent chance as he collected a poor back pass from a Mumbai City player and even tested Lachenpa but the custodian stood tall. From the resulting corner, Ivan Vukomanovic’s side should have equalised as Jeakson Singh got a free header but he could not direct his effort onto the goal.
Eight minutes later, Mumbai City could have added a third goal as Mehtab got on the end of a free-kick but couldn’t keep his headed effort on target despite it being a free header.
The Blasters then wasted two great opportunities as Luna struck the crossbar followed by an effort that Rahul fired wide of the post. Chhangte had a big chance almost instantly at the other end as he raced through on goal and fired wide.
There was an error from Gill who chose to punch a ball back into the play instead of punching it out of play and there was slight panic but it led to no harm.
After the 80th-minute mark, the Islanders again started to dictate the possession as they tried to wear down their opposition players. In truth, Buckingham’s side took their foot off the pedal after the first half while the Tuskers did improve after the break but they were still not clinical enough.
Having lost their previous two matches, the Blasters were staring at a third consecutive defeat for the first time since the 2019-20 ISL season. As many as six minutes were added at the end of regulation time and Luna nearly troubled Lachenpa in what would be the last effort of the game, but his effort sailed narrowly over the woodwork.