Mumbai City clings on to their top-four spot with a 2-0 win over Goa

One point separates Kerala Blasters from the top four

Mumbai City held on to their fourth position by beating Goa 2-0 in ‘Match 103’ of the 2021-22 Indian Super League season. Mehtab Singh and Diego Mauricio were on target for the Islanders.

Goa head coach Derrick Pereira made six changes to the team that lost 3-2 against Hyderabad. Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Anwar Ali, Saviour Gama, Edu Bedia, Brandon Fernandes, and Jorge Ortiz had to make way for Naveen Kuman, Dylan Fox, Aiban Dohling, Devendra Murgaonkar, Alexander Romario Jesuraj, and Airam Cabrera respectively. On the other hand, Mumbai City head coach Des Buckingham fielded the same starting XI that registered a 1-0 win over East Bengal.

Unlike what almost everyone predicted, Mumbai started the game on the backfoot with Goa calling the shots early on. The Gaurs could have scored as early as the 6th minute when a Makan Chothe cross from the left flank found Romario unmarked in the box, but he got his header horribly wrong.

Eight minutes later, it was the Islanders’ turn to test the Gaurs’ backline when Cassinho found Igor Angulo with a freekick, but the latter’s header stayed out after striking the crossbar.

Barely three minutes later, Pereira’s team was awarded a penalty courtesy of a goalkeeping howler from Mohamad Nawaz. The young custodian took an eternity to clear a ball and on being charged down by Airam, he failed to connect with the ball and brought the player down instead. However, the lad from Manipur redeemed himself a minute later by saving the Spaniard’s effort with his trailing leg.

He was called into action once again when Romario found Cabrera unmarked inside the box with a precise delivery from the right flank. The former Cordoba striker’s effort was both powerful and on target, but Nawaz got down in time to keep the scoreline at 0-0.

It turned out to be a costly miss for Pereira’s team, as the Islanders broke the deadlock only six minutes later. A perfectly weighted free-kick from Cassinho caught the entire Goa backline napping, as central defender Mehtab headed the ball into the net without any challenge.

Three minutes later, Angulo also found the back of the net from another freekick, this time delivered by Lallianzuala Chhangte, but it was chalked off as the former Goa striker brought a current Goa player down in the process of heading the ball home.

Like the first half, Pereira’s team dominated the early phase of the second half and came agonizingly close to scoring just six minutes after the resumption. A dinked pass from Princeton Rebello found Alberto Noguera inside the box, whose effort struck the side netting.

The former Atletico Madrid player was heavily involved once again barely a couple of minutes later when he found Romario inside the box with a clever pass. The winger from Tamil Nadu did well to beat his marker Angulo with silky footwork and then pull the trigger, but his shot went out after hitting the woodwork.

Diego Mauricio doubled Mumbai City’s lead

Diego Mauricio doubled Mumbai City’s lead

All of these misses came back to haunt Goa once again as Buckingham’s team doubled their lead in the 86th minute, thanks to shambolic defending from Dohling and Seriton Fernandes. Both players failed to clear off a ball to safety, and when Mauricio came down charging, Dohling ended up giving the ball to the former Flamengo man who accepted the gift gleefully by finding the back of the net.

With this win, Mumbai City remains in the fourth position in the standings and will now take on the fifth-placed Kerala Blasters in what will be a virtual quarter-final on Wednesday. As for ninth-placed Goa, they will call curtains to their season with a game against Kerala Blasters next Sunday.