Mumbai City shares the points with Hyderabad after a 1-1 settlement
The caravan of the 2022-23 Indian Super League witnessed the season’s second draw encounter between top-ranked Mumbai City and Hyderabad on Saturday.
The Islanders dominated the first-half action with a 23rd-minute penalty goal from Jorge Pereyra Diaz while the Nizams staged a thumping bounceback in the latter half after Hitesh Sharma netted the equalizer in the 65th minute.
The Double-champions of the 2020-21 edition have equalled Jamshedpur’s record of scoring the most points (43) in an ISL season and just need one draw outcome in the three remaining league games to break it down.
The Islanders used their rotation policy to induct Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Rostyn Griffiths and Alberto Noguera back into the Starting Eleven. Meanwhile, the Islanders gaffer Des Buckingham also named the youngsters Halen Nongtdu and Hardik Bhatt in the matchday squad in his 50th managerial appearance for this club.
Manolo Marquez handed a surprising start to the Spanish attacking midfielder Joel Chianese while the club’s first-choice skipper Jaoa Victor missed yet another fixture due to injury. In spite of so many speculations roaming around, the star domestic Nizams Halicharan Narzary and Chinglensana Singh were sidelined from the starting XI.
The early evening clash commenced with the kick-off whistle blown by referee Harish Kundu in front of energetic spectators turned up at Mumbai Football Arena. The visitors donning their traditional yellow and black colors took the first kick against the table-toppers who were determined to sustain further their unbeaten run.
Mumbai City efficiently took the ball possession on their side however, a robust defensive display from the Deccan Legion kept them silent in the initial minutes. A steady game’s pace was suddenly disturbed by a swift counter-attack from the Islanders in the 22nd minute which led the home crowd to go berserk just a minute later.
The Manipuri winger Bipin Singh Thounaojam was too close to scoring the opening goal of the game however, his headed attempt was inappropriately occluded. Hyderabad full-back Nikhil Poojary not only conceded a yellow card for his hand-ball obstruction but also gave away an opportunity for the home team to take the lead.
The Argentine striker Jorge Pereyra Diaz took the direct kick from the penalty spot for the Sky Blues and made no mistake in converting it into the breakthrough. The penalty conversion turned out to be the only key moment from the first-half saga as the Maharashtrian outfit stood in the commanding position at the half-time break.
The second-half action resumed with both of the high-profile combatants making no changes to their lineups and stuck to the same approach. Manolo’s Nizam Army displayed a refreshing intent in the initial minutes of the latter half and soon enough got the reward of their diligent efforts.
A well-anticipated move from the Yellow and Blacks camp resulted in Hitesh Sharma breaking the deadlock for the visitors with assistance from Mohammed Yasir. The 25-year-old midfielder finally accumulated his maiden Hyderabad goal which was also his first in the ISL career spanning six years.
The table-toppers kept their hunt for the winning goal on but an impervious guard of the Hyderabad goalkeeper Gurmeet Singh denied it each and every time. And thus the final scoreline remained equivalent to 1-1 at the Maharashtrian capital city as the two top-ranked sides played a fourth encounter between them which ended in a draw.
It came out as no surprise when the game was consummated on a neutral scoreline as both of them have equivalent star power and play a similar style of football. However, Hyderabad’s numbers were still not up to their standards after registering only a single shot on target which resulted in the equalizing strike.
The 21-year-old left-back Akash Mishra once again proved why he is currently regarded as one of the most promising talents in the country after bagging the Hero of the Match honor.
The Nizams are scheduled to feature in another away fixture and will be up against the neighborhood rivals Odisha to battle out for south-eastern supremacy in Friday’s lone fixture.
Meanwhile, the table-toppers will be arriving on the Goan soil on Saturday to summon familiar foes Gaurs after taking a few days off as they have no scheduled fixture in the upcoming matchday.