Mumbai City finishes with 8 men as Odisha keeps their calm to win 1-0
Odisha became the second team to qualify for the final of the 2024 Kalinga Super Cup, as they handed Mumbai City a 1-0 defeat courtesy of a goal from Diego Mauricio at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar on Thursday.
Mumbai City head coach Petr Kratky made two changes to the team that defeated Chennaiyin as Mehtab Singh made a comeback after returning from his AFC Asian Cup duties in place of Alberto Noguera, who was serving his one-game suspension. Sanjeev Stalin was also handed a start in place of the benched Jayesh Rane.
On the other hand, Odisha head coach Sergio Lobera chose to field the starting starting XI that took the field in their last group stage game against Goa, where the Kalinga Warriors emerged as 3-2 winners.
Given that they had a massive numerical advantage in terms of the number of foreigners available, Odisha was always likely to dominate the game and they did so by creating chances continuously.
In the 9th minute, striker Roy Krishna found himself in space and pulled the trigger, but his attempt was saved by Phurba Lachenpa. The rebound fell to left-back Jerry Lalrinzuala, who could not cushion the ball on target.
Not many chances were created in the next few minutes, although both Isak Vanlalruatfela and Amey Ranawade tried their luck from a distance. Just after the half-hour mark, Mauricio tried to find the back of the net as well, but Lachenpa came to the Islanders’ rescue yet again.
But the Brazilian finally had the upper hand over Mumbai City’s last line of defense in the 42nd minute, when he was brought down inside the box by Lachenpa. From the spot, the experienced striker made no mistake whatsoever to give the lead to his team.
Kratky’s team then did all they could to find an equalizer in the first half itself, and they even came close. A Yoell van Nieff free-kick found Valpuia unmarked, but the youngster could not guide his attempt on target. A minute later, Isak joined the party to double Odisha’s lead, but his shot was not on target either.
The initial phase of the second half was all about Mumbai City creating one chance after another. Just one minute after the resumption of play, Gurkirat Singh made a darting run before pulling the trigger, but his attempt was wayward. In the 48th minute, Valpuia delivered a cross which found Stalin, but his shot struck a player in black and was deflected away from the target.
The biggest chance for an equalizer came in the 55th minute of the game when Mumbai City had two bites at the cherry. Firstly, Stalin found himself in a pocket of space at the edge of the box and launched a powerful shot. This attempt would have gone to hit the top corner, had it not been superbly saved by the Odisha goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte.
The danger was not averted yet for the Kalinga Warriors as from the resulting corner, van Nieff jumped the highest and deftly guided his header towards the target. It once seemed that the ball was about to enter the net, but it somehow only struck the post.
While Mumbai City had most of their players on attacking duties, Odisha did look menacing on the counter-attacks. Over the next ten minutes, both Krishna and Japanese winger Cy Goddard had chances to score the insurance goal, but neither of them was clinical enough to do the same.
Besides the penalty, Odisha’s best chance from open play came as late as the 90th minute, from a counter-attack as well. Substitute Vignesh Dakshinamurthy found himself in acres of space down the left flank and put on the afterburners before launching a cross, which was a bit over-hit.
However, Krishna did brilliantly to keep it in play by knocking it down to the path of Isak, who had the entire goal gaping. Unfortunately for Lobera and his team, the Mizo winger blasted his shot over the goal.
Vignesh made a nuisance of himself after coming on in the 87th minute and nearly got a goal to his name in additional time. In another such move where he made a darting run down the left flank, he decided to pull the trigger himself but his attempt met a sliding Mehtab.
Things turned ugly in the fourth minute of injury time when three Mumbai City players were given marching orders. The incident happened from a free-kick where Rostyn Griffiths brought Carlos Delgado down, but the Australian was not happy with the manner in which the Spaniard threw himself to the ground.
While what happened next was not clearly shown, it seemed Griffiths might have stomped Delgado, who was later seen screaming in pain. Players from both teams were involved in an altercation, but for excessive dissent against the referee Harish Kundu, both Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Gurkirat were sent off. While Diaz got a straight red, Gurkirat was shown a second yellow card. Delgado was shown a yellow card too, for his involvement in the tussle.
After this win, Odisha has qualified for the final of the Kalinga Super Cup, where they will take on East Bengal on Sunday. On the other hand, Mumbai City will now switch their focus back to the Indian Super League, where they will face Jamshedpur next Sunday.