Igor Angulo stars for Mumbai City as they dominate Goa in a fresh dawn

Igor Angulo celebrates a goal against his former side

Mumbai City started their first-ever Indian Super League title defense in style as they dominated Goa at the Fatorda Stadium banging in three goals with no reply from the Gaurs on the evening.

The new Mumbai City head coach Des Buckingham fielded a new-look starting XI with only 5 players surviving from the starting XI of the 2020-21 ISL season final. Mourtda Fall and Ahmed Jahouh, the surviving overseas duo along with new signings Cassio Gabriel and Igor Angulo made up the foreign contingent on the pitch.

Similarly, the Goa manager Juan Ferrando also played one foreign defender, two foreign midfielders, and an overseas striker fielding Ivan Gonzales, Edu Bedia, Alberto Noguera, and debutant Airam Cabrera. Interestingly, the Gaurs head coach went for an inexperienced defense with Papuia, Leander D’Cunha, and Sanson Periera starting at the back.

The match got off to a cagey start as both sides were getting to the paces of an ISL match after playing several pre-season friendlies ahead of their first competitive match of the season.

The Mumbai City manager was forced to make a very early change in his reign as the head coach of the Islanders as former Goa skipper Mandar Rao Dessai came on to replace Vignesh Dakshnamurthy. Vignesh made a brilliant run into the box going past two or three players and D’Cunha brought down the pacy full-back but the referee decided against giving the penalty which made Buckingham very agitated on the touchline.

A few minutes later, the industrious Glan Martins stole the ball off Jahouh in the penalty area after a poor Mohammad Nawaz pass who was visibly nervy in the penalty area. The midfielder’s pass to Airam Cabrera was a bit scratchy and the Goa debutant failed to get a connection and open his goalscoring account in the ISL.

In the 32nd minute, Ivan Gonzales brought down debutant Cassinho in the penalty box gifting a penalty to the defending champions. Igor Angulo stepped up and did the business against his former side as the 37-year old slotted the ball in the top right corner giving former teammate Dheeraj Singh no chance of getting to the ball.

Igor Angulo celebrates his second goal with new teammate Raynier Fernandes

Igor Angulo celebrates his second goal with new teammate Raynier Fernandes

Less than three minutes later, Angulo was fed by Raynier Fernandes and the marksman took a low shot from the edge of the area that beat the diving Nawaz for the Islanders’ second goal of the night.

Before the half-time break, Angulo stole the ball off Papuia and fed Cassinho who played a through ball for Fernandes but the midfielder ended up hitting the crossbar instead of making it 3 goals for his side on the night.

At half-time, Ferrando made his first substitution of the evening as Saviour Gama was hooked off in favor of Nongdamba Naorem. Less than ten minutes later, Devendra Murgaonkar was brought on to replace the booked Alexander Romario Jesuraj to further affect the proceedings.

Goa dominated the ball in the second period but failed to create clear-cut chances with the new-look central defender pairing of Fall and former Bengaluru defender Rahul Bheke doing the job for the Islanders.

Rowlin Borges, Ygor Catanau, Mehtab Singh, Princeton Rebello, and Seriton Fernandes were given a run-out around the 75th-minute mark for their respective sides as both managers freshened up the team in the season opener for their sides. The multiple substitutions had a direct impact on the proceedings as Catanau headed the Jahouh free-kick in the back of the net with a well-directed header which was his first touch in Indian football.

In the 82nd minute, Bipin Singh had a great opportunity to open his account for this season but failed to hit the target from 15 yards with a disappointing scruffy effort at goal. The Islanders smartly snuffed the energy out of the game in the final few minutes with Gaurs lacking their usual flair and trickery on the evening.

Fernando will look to motivate his side to produce a better performance against their next opponents Jamshedpur whilst the reigning champions face Hyderabad in their second fixture of the 2021-22 ISL season.