Mumbai City scripts history by beating Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 2-1

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Rahul Bheke scored the winning goal for Mumbai City

Mumbai City scripted history on Monday, as they became the first Indian team to win an AFC Champions League game. The Islanders secured a 2-1 triumph over Iraq’s Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, where Diego Mauricio and Rahul Bhke scored for the Indian side, while the Iraqi outfit’s solitary goal was scored by Hammadi Ahmad.

Des Buckingham made two changes to the team that lost 3-0 against Al-Shabab. Amey Ranawade replaced Mehtab Singh in defense and slotted in at right-back, with Rahul Bheke forming the central defensive pairing alongside Mourtada Fall. Besides that, Diego Mauricio got the nod ahead of Cassinho and played as a striker with Bipin Singh returning to his usual position on the right-wing.

On the other hand, Hakeen Shaker made a couple of changes to his starting XI following a 2-1 win against Al-Jazira. Defender Sameh Saeed was replaced by Mustafa Mohammed, whilst Alaa Abbas was preferred ahead of Sharif Abdul-Kadhim.

The game had a cagey start with both sides taking their time to find their footing. The first opening of the game fell to the Iraqi outfit in the 9th minute when Abbas had a go at the goal, but he was denied by the Islanders’ custodian Phurba Lachenpa.

Eight minutes later, a Dhurgham Ismail cross found Safaa Hadi unmarked inside the box but the Iraqi midfielder failed to keep his header on target. Ismail launched another cross into the box a minute later, but this time around, it was Ahmed Ibrahim’s turn to squander the opportunity.

The Islanders’ first opportunity of the match came in the 27th minute when Ahmed Jahouh laid off a pass for Lallianzuala Chhangte, but the winger’s shot was not on target. It served as a wake-up call for the Iraqi side as only a couple of minutes later, Ismail decided to pull the trigger himself but Phurba was up to the task to keep the scoreline at 0-0.

The former Caykur Rizespor star was one of Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya’s best performers in this match, as he went for glory once again in the 35th minute, but this time around, his left-footed strike went wide of the goal post. The last chance of the first half fell to Buckingham’s team in the 43rd minute when Vikram Pratap Singh launched a shot, but his effort was blocked by Shaker’s backline.

Eight minutes later, a Dhurgham Ismail cross found Safaa Hadi unmarked inside the box but the Iraqi midfielder failed to keep his header on target. Ismail launched another cross into the box a minute later, but this time around, it was Ahmed Ibrahim’s turn to squander the opportunity.

The Islanders’ first opportunity of the match came in the 27th minute when Ahmed Jahouh laid off a pass for Lallianzuala Chhangte, but the winger’s shot was not on target. It served as a wake-up call for the Iraqi side as only a couple of minutes later, Ismail decided to pull the trigger himself but Phurba was up to the task to keep the scoreline at 0-0.

The former Caykur Rizespor star was one of Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya’s best performers in this match, as he went for glory once again in the 35th minute, but this time around, his left-footed strike went wide of the goal post. The last chance of the first half fell to Buckingham’s team in the 43rd minute when Vikram Pratap Singh launched a shot, but his effort was blocked by Shaker’s backline.

Like the first half, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya had the better start in the second half and got two opportunities inside the first nine minutes, but neither Hadi nor Shareef Abdulkadhim could find the back of the net. The Falcons did not have to wait long though, as the goal eventually came just seconds before the hour-mark. Ahmad launched a vicious effort into the top right corner, and this time around, Phurba could not save the day for the Indian Super League team.

Diego Mauricio scored Mumbai City’s first goal from the penalty spot

Diego Mauricio scored Mumbai City’s first goal from the penalty spot

However, Mumbai City got an opportunity against the run of play when Ali Kadhim brought down Mauricio inside the box. The Brazilian made no mistake in utilizing the golden opportunity to make it 1-1 for the Islanders in the 70th minute.

Lightning struck twice for Shaker’s team in this clash – the second time being in the 75th minute. A perfectly weighted corner from Jahouh found Bheke unmarked in the box and the defender found the back of the net with his accurate header, thereby giving his team a one-goal lead.

Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya threw the kitchen sink at Mumbai City after conceding that goal, but Buckingham’s defensive contingent proved to be unbreakable. Mehdi Boukassi had a shot in the 79th minute while Ahmad came close to scoring his second goal in the 93rd minute, but Phurba was alert to seal what is a historic win for not only the Islanders but for the entire Indian football community.

The Islanders will now take on the United Arab Emirates outfit Al-Jazira on Friday, whereas on the same day, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya will lock horns with Saudi giants Al-Shabab.

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