Mumbai City fires four goals past helpless Bengaluru
ISL League Winners’ Shield holders Mumbai City scored four goals past Bengaluru at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium away from home to climb to the fourth spot in the ISL 2023-24 ISL points table. Abdenasser El Khayati, Akash Mishra, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, and Lallianzuala Chhangte scored the quartet of goals for the Islanders.
Mumbai City interim coach Anthony Fernandez made three changes to the side that lost 1-2 to Navbahor in their last AFC Champions League encounter. Phurba Lachenpa returned to the starting line-up in place of Mohammad Nawaz in between the sticks. Mehtab Singh slotted in the back three in place of Tiri while Vinit Rai took the position of Yoell van Nieff in the defensive midfield position.
Bengaluru coach Simon Grayson also made three changes in a bid to arrest their five-game winless streak. Slavko Damjanovic replaced Shankar Sampingraj in the heart of defense while Suresh Wangjam took the place of Keziah Veendorp in the middle of the park. Sivasakthi Narayanan replaced Halicharan Narzary in the wings as the Blues tried to add some cutting edge to the attack.
The visitors scored the first of their four goals in the 11th minute when Rahul Bheke’s ground pass found Greg Stewart in the opposition box. The entire Bengaluru defense was caught napping as he laid a back pass towards El Khayati and the Moroccan slammed the ball into the net with Stewart registering his 20th assist in ISL history.
The Islanders almost scored another goal in the 16th minute when Apuia aimed for Jorge Pereyra Diaz with a curling cross but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu dived full-stretched to parry the ball away.
Bengaluru’s first signs of threat came in the 23rd minute when Curtis Main tried to angle a cross towards Sunil Chhetri at the far post but Mehtab Singh nodded the ball away as far as Javi Hernandez at the edge of the box. The Spaniard tried to chip the ball into the top corner but Lachenpa timed his jump perfectly to tip it away.
Akash Mishra silenced the home crowd in the 30th minute by finding the net to double Mumbai City’s lead. Robin Yadav mistimed his clearance off a corner kick as it went towards Mishra at the edge of the box and the Indian international took a low shot and it went past Gurpreet’s reach after a wicked deflection off Hernandez.
In the 35th minute, El Khayati was clipped inside the box by Jovanovic but the referee didn’t award the penalty to Mumbai City. Diaz collected the resultant ball and released Apuia but the youngster’s shot sailed inches off the crossbar.
One minute later, El Khayati got another chance to double his goal-scoring tally but his free header went straight into the hands of Gurpreet. Bengaluru tried to pull one goal back in the 37th minute when Main cut back a pass towards Chhetri at the edge of the box. However, the latter’s shot on target was saved by Lachenpa.
The half-time scoreline read 2-0 in favor of Mumbai City as Bengaluru found themselves a mountain to climb.
In the 57th minute, Mumbai City started right from where they left off as Stewart tried to cross the ball across the face of goal but the ball struck the arm of Robin Yadav. The referee didn’t hesitate to point towards the spot and Diaz stepped up to take the penalty and made Gurpreet dive the wrong way slamming the ball home.
Bengaluru substituted Robin Yadav as Shivaldo Chingambam Singh made his ISL debut. The substitute right-back tugged the shirt of a marauding Mishra from behind and went straight into the book for his offense. Chhangte stepped up to take the penalty this time in the 61st minute and slammed the ball into the top corner.
The home side tried to get one goal back in the 68th minute when Suresh Wangjam capitalized on a rebound following a clearance from a corner kick. Chhetri tried to deflect the ball with the back of his heel but Lachenpa read the trajectory of the ball and stooped low to collect the ball.
In the 74th minute, Rohit Danu made a pass towards fellow substitute Monirul Molla in the right side of the pitch for Bengaluru but Mumbai City’s substitute Tiri made a vital block to keep the clean sheet intact.
In the second minute of injury time, Jovanovic made a long pass towards Chhetri at the penalty box who laid it for Monirul. The latter pulled the trigger a bit late as Rahul Bheke made a sliding block to keep the ball away for a corner kick.
The referee blew the full-time whistle as Bengaluru failed to make the most of the six minutes of added time to score a consolation goal and will now face Chennaiyin and Jamshedpur in the space of next seven days. Grayson’s men are now without a win from the last six matches with their last victory coming against East Bengal and sit ninth in the league standings with one win, four draws, and four losses.
The scenario was something similar for the Blues last season as they bounced back from a 4-0 loss against Mumbai City at this time of the year to finish as runners-up of the 2022-23 ISL season and the fans would be hoping for a similar Christmas gift this time around.
Mumbai City would be hoping to continue their fine form as their sojourn in Asia has come to an end and they can firmly focus on the ISL. With four wins from six games, they now have 14 points just two behind third-placed Mohun Bagan Super Giants who have played the same number of games. They will be squaring off against table-toppers Goa on Tuesday.