Mumbai win the ISL ‘League Winners’ Shield
Mumbai City beat ATK Mohun Bagan in the last match of the league stage season to get their hands on the prestigious ISL ‘League Winners’ Shield and thereby qualifying for the AFC Champions League next season.
The Islanders came out on top on Sunday courtesy of goals from Mourtada Fall and Bartholomew Ogbeche in the first half against the Mariners who direly lost out on the AFC Champions League spot.
Despite heavy investment in the summer of new defenders Sandesh Jhingan, Tiri, and Subhasish Bose along with the pacey forward Manvir Singh, coach Antonio Lopez Habas was distraught at the end of the season as ATK Mohun Bagan had to settle for an AFC Cup yet spot yet again in the next Asian football season.
In the last league match of the season, all was up for grabs for Sergio Lobera’s Mumbai City who needed a win while ATK Mohun Bagan could even do with a draw to retain their position on the top of the league table.
Sergio Lobera chasing a second consecutive ISL ‘League Winners’ shield made two changes to the team that defeated Odisha FC 6-1 in the last round of fixtures. Cy Goodard and Mehtab Singh made way for Hernan Santana and the young Pranjal Bhumij making his third ever start in the ISL.
On the other hand, Antonio Lopez Habas rang two changes to his side as well from the Mariners’ penultimate league stage fixture against Hyderabad FC. Subhasish Bose and Javier Hernandez made way for Pronay Halder and Marcelinho in the starting XI on the night.
An accurate Ahmed Jahouh free-kick in the seventh minute of the match allowed Mourtada Fall to head the ball in the back of the net giving Arindam Bhattacharja in goal no chance of making a save and preserve his clean sheet in the match.
In the 37th minute, Pritam Kotal went in with a mistimed tackle on Ahmed Jahouh and gifted Sergio Lobera’s side another free-kick in a dangerous position. Hernan Santana produced a brilliant effort as the ball rattled the crossbar and fell straight to Bartholomew Ogbeche who netted it in the back of the net.
Sergio Lobera’s excellent management was on display once again in the second half as the Islanders kept their opponents at bay allowing their manager to bag his second consecutive ‘League Winners’ shield.
There was a brief period in the second half when ATK Mohun Bagan players threatened to pull a goal back as substitute Prabir Das hit the woodwork at the hour mark and David Wiliams was denied by Amrinder Singh as well a few minutes later.
Mumbai City FC will now face FC Goa in the semi-final while ATK Mohun Bagan FC will face NorthEast United FC and the winners of the two-legged semi-finals will compete for the coveted ISL trophy on March 13 at the Fatorda Stadium.