Mumbai City clinches League Winners’ Shield with a 5-star win over Goa
A Greg Stewart brace and goals from Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Lallianzuala Chhangte and Vikram Pratap Singh comprised the Islanders’ five goals, while for the Gaurs, Noah Sadaoui, Brandon Fernandes and Brison Fernandes were on target.
Goa head coach Carlos Pena made three changes to the team that drew 1-1 against Odisha. Seriton Fernandes, Edu Bedia, and Devendra Murgaonkar were handed starts at the expense of Aibanbha Dohling, Lenny Rodrigues, and Alvaro Vazquez respectively.
On the other hand, Mumbai City head coach Des Buckingham made two changes to the team that held Hyderabad to a draw in the last fixture. Mourtada Fall and Alberto Noguera were demoted to the bench with Ahmed Jahouh and Stewart replacing them.
Mumbai City had the better start and had their first attempt from a free-kick in only the third minute. Jahouh did well to get his shot up and over the wall, but he could not beat the Gaurs’ goalkeeper, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem.
Goa had their first chance two minutes later, but unlike their opponents, Pena’s men did not let it go begging. Anwar Ali’s long freekick saw Noah one-on-one with the Highlanders’ custodian, Phurba Lachenpa, and the Moroccan made no mistake in calmly slotting it past him to give his team an early lead.
Just a couple of minutes later, the visitors had another opportunity when Jahouh’s corner somehow found its way to Stewart. The Scotsman did well to get a shot in, but yet again, Dheeraj came to his team’s rescue.
However, the equalizer eventually arrived in the 18th minute. Buckingham’s team won a free-kick in a dangerous position and Stewart took the responsibility on his shoulders. The former Rangers player curled in a superb strike to beat Dheeraj and make the score 1-1.
After conceding, the balance of the game once again shifted back to Goa’s favour, as they launched one attack after another. Noah’s shot in the 25th minute was saved by Lachenpa, while five minutes later, he put in a cross on the plate for Iker Guarrotxena. However, the Spaniard missed the ball by a whisker.
Then in the 35th minute, the Moroccan showed his skills again to beat his marker before playing a pass for Murgaonkar, who then set Brandon free with a cross. However, the latter’s attempted cross was blocked by one of Buckingham’s defenders.
These missed chances proved to be costly as Mumbai City took the lead in the 40th minute. After receiving a pass from Stewart, Chhangte made a darting run down the right flank before drilling a ball through Anwar’s legs for Diaz. From a handshaking distance and with the entire goal gaping, the Argentine strike made no mistake in tucking the ball home.
The game continued ebbing and flowing, as the Gaurs equalized just two minutes later. After scoring the first, Noah turned provider this time around as his lobbed pass split open the entire Mumbai City defense before reaching Brandon, who placed his shot past a helpless Lachenpa.
But just as when it seemed that the game will remain at 2-2 in the lemon break, Buckingham’s team equalized in the 44th minute. It was the action replay of their first goal as the Gaurs yet again conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position, and Stewart’s left-footed attempt helped the Highlanders regain their lead.
The second half saw Goa having the better start and they had a great chance in the 49th minute. Brandon darted down the right flank before launching a cross for Guarrotxena, and while the latter did well to beat his marker, his header was not on target.
With none of the Gaurs’ attacks bearing fruit, it was Mumbai City who scored the next goal of the match. In the 70th minute, Chhangte’s cross struck Anwar’s arm and the referee rightfully awarded the visitors a penalty. The Mizo winger took the penalty himself and comfortably made the score 4-2.
Despite having a two-goal cushion, the Islanders continued attacking and had their fifth goal just seven minutes later. A precise corner found Fall completely unmarked, but instead of going for glory himself, he laid a header for Vikram. From a close range, the youngster did well to beat Dheeraj with his header.
However, it was not all that the game had to offer as Goa managed to reduce the deficit to two in the 84th minute. Substitute Vazquez made a good run down the right side before finding another substitute, Brison, with a precise pass. The young midfielder still had a lot to do, but he showed composure to beat Lachenpa with his attempt.
With this win, Mumbai City remains at the top of the table with 46 points from 18 games. They will now take on Bengaluru on Wednesday while Goa, who went down to sixth with 17 points from 18 games, will be up against Chennaiyin on Thursday.