Points shared between East Bengal and Mumbai City in a 0-0 draw

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The sixth match of Matchday 10 of the 2023-24 season of the Indian Super League saw East Bengal and Mumbai City playing out a 0-0 draw at the Mumbai Football Arena. The two teams had a combined 15 attempts, but neither managed to break the deadlock.

Mumbai City’s new head coach, Petr Kratky made four changes to the team that drew 0-0 against Goa. Tiri replaced Rostyn Griffiths in defense, while Vinit Rai made way for Jayesh Rane in midfield. Meanwhile, Abdenasser El Khayati and Vikram Pratap Singh made way for Yoell van Nieff and Bipin Singh respectively.

On the flip side, East Bengal head coach Carles Cuadrat made just one change to the team which was held to a goalless draw by Punjab. Youngster Vishnu PV was given another opportunity with Nandhakumar Sekar dropping to the bench.

As expected, the hosts had the better start and could have scored as early as the fourth minute. A ball from Jorge Pereyra Diaz found Rane, who missed the chance of proving Kratky right as his header was not on target.

There were hardly any notable moments to report about from the next few minutes, as East Bengal were more than happy to defend with every player possible. Against the run of play, they had a good chance in the 20th minute when Cleiton Silva’s corner found Saul Crespo completely unmarked, but the Spaniard blasted his shot into the crowd.

While Kratky’s team dominated possession, the odd chances were created by Cuadrat’s men. In the 33rd minute, Crespo played a pass from the left flank for Borja Herrera, but the former Las Palmas player could not find the target with his attempt.

The Islanders had a half-chance just before the end of the first half when van Nieff found the ball somehow landing at his feet from the middle of a jumble but his shot was way off target.

Jorge Pereyra Diaz could not have his usual influence on this game

The second half also followed a similar pattern, where much of the possession was held by Mumbai City, but nothing major came from it. In the 57th minute, Pereyra Diaz found some space inside the box and laid off a pass for Rane, who did well to generate power on his shot but failed to keep it down as the ball soared high and landed amongst the spectators.

Meanwhile, the Torchbearers kept on creating chances on the break. In the 68th minute, substitute Sekar put on the afterburners down the left flank before playing a pass for Silva. The Brazilian striker had Naorem Mahesh Singh as an option inside the box, but despite the angle being narrow, he went for a shot only to have it blocked by a player in blue.

The biggest chance of the match came in the 73rd minute, from a brilliantly worked corner routine. After playing a one-two with Greg Stewart, Bipin launched a brilliant corner from the left flank which saw Griffiths beating his marker but East Bengal goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill came up with an outstanding save from point-blank range to keep his team in the game.

The Islanders had another good chance in the 80th minute when Bipin darted down the right flank before launching a cross, which would have found Akash Mishra completely unmarked had Nishu Kumar not made an amazing clearance. 

The rebound fell for Tiri, who laid off a headed pass for Apuia before the young midfielder pulled the trigger from distance. His attempt had power too, but was directed straight at Gill.

A minute later, Bipin decided to go for goal himself from the right flank, but he could not find the target either. Only two minutes later, Gill was called into action again when substitute Lallianzuala Chhangte played a ball for Griffiths inside the box but Gill made another save to preserve his clean sheet.

While Mumbai City will be disappointed not to get three points, they could easily have lost if East Bengal’s attackers were more clinical. In the 89th minute, Silva had a superb chance when a Nandhakumar through ball found him in space between Mumbai City’s two central defenders but his toe-poke attempt was safely gathered by Phurba Lachenpa under the Islanders’ sticks.

Four minutes later, Mahesh found himself in acres of space down the right flank, but instead of going for goal himself, he played in Nandhakumar. However, the winger’s shot was blocked brilliantly by Tiri. The last chance fell to the Torchbearers as well, when Silva’s corner found Hijazi Maher in space but the Jordanian defender could not guide his header on target.With this win, Mumbai City remains in fourth place with 16 points from eight matches. They will now face another Kolkata giant Mohun Bagan Super Giant on Wednesday while East Bengal climbed to the 7th place and have 10 points from 9 games. The Red and Gold Brigade will be up against Odisha on Friday.