Vikram Partap Singh’s brace powers Mumbai City to a 2-0 win over Bengaluru

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Mumbai City players celebrate after scoring a goal against Bengaluru

Mumbai City climbed to the fourth spot in the 2023-24 India Super League league standings with a 2-0 win over Bengaluru at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday. The away side dominated possession but was unable to score a goal while Vikram Partap Singh netted a brace. 

Mumbai City coach Petr Kratky made two changes to the side that defeated East Bengal 1-0 with Tiri regaining his spot in the back four in place of Thaer Krouma. Yoell van Nieff returned to the defensive midfield position in place of Jayesh Rane to stop Bengaluru from bombarding the attacks through the middle. 

Bengaluru, on the other hand, made only one change to the side that held Jamshedpur 1-1 in their previous encounter as new signing Oliver Drost took the place of Sivasakthi Narayanan.

The away side almost took the lead in the 11th minute when Harsh Patre lobbed a ball from the middle of the park towards the final third. Mumbai City’s Valpuia failed to clear it in time and Suresh Singh found himself in a one-on-one position with the goalkeeper inside the box with the ball at his feet. The Indian international aimed for the top right corner but it struck the woodwork and fizzled out of play. 

In the 37th minute, Sunil Chhetri registered a shot on target but Phurba Lachenpa was agile to tip it above the crossbar. The move started with Bengaluru’s Chinglensana Singh lofting a free-kick from his own half towards the opposition box. Chhetri towered above his marker Rahul Bheke to nod it goalwards but Lachenpa kept his sight on the ball and palmed it away. 

Bengaluru’s two failed attempts haunted them in the 41st minute when Vikram gave Mumbai the lead. Lalengmawia fell down inside the box cheaply hoping to win a penalty off Chhetri but the referee remained unmoved. The entire Bengaluru defense turned themselves off and Lallianzuala Chhangte capitalized on the loose ball to pass it towards Vikram who made no mistake, blasting the ball into the roof of the net from point-blank range. 

Two minutes later, Bengaluru almost equalized through Nikhil Poojary. Tiri headed away Sivasakthi’s free-kick but it fell only towards Patre on the rebound. After playing a one-two pass with Drost, Patre released Poojary inside the box. The right back’s shot took an untimely deflection off Valpuia’s foot before hitting the woodwork and going out of play. 

In the first minute of added time, Shivaldo Singh’s corner kick found Chhetri at the far post who tried to find Drest in the middle but Lachenpa fisted it and Tiri cleared it away to avert the danger. 

One minute later, Mumbai City knocked on the door with Vikram diving low to connect his header off Chhangte’s cross from the right flank. The 22-year-old whizzed past his marker Poojary but his final shot rolled wide off the crossbar. 

In the third minute of added time, Valpuia missed a golden opportunity to double the Islanders’ lead. van Nieff’s free-kick from 30 yards out found the right back unmarked inside the box but the 23-year-old failed to keep his header on target. 

Mumbai City’s Yoell van Nieff in action against Bengaluru’s Sunil Chhetri and Oliver Drost

Vikram’s wait for the second goal ended in the 58th minute as he doubled the home side’s lead. Alberto Noguera released Iker Guarrotxena towards the right flank and the latter crossed the ball for Vikram towards the far post who towered above his marker Poojary to head the ball home. 

Bengaluru almost pulled a goal back in the 74th minute. Substitute Javi Hernandez’s scorching free-kick from the right side of the pitch found another substitute Monirul Molla who towered above his marker Rahul Bheke. However, the 18-year-old’s header flew inches wide of the crossbar. 

In the 83rd minute, Bengaluru custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu produced a fabulous save to restrict the deficit to only two goals. Substitute Bipin Singh whipped a cross towards Chhangte in the middle who leaped above his marker Naorem Roshan Singh but Gurpreet timed his low dive perfectly to collect the ball. 

In the 85th minute, Molla missed his second chance of the game when he failed to keep his shot on target from a point-blank range. Substitute Lalremtluanga Fanai curled a cross from the left flank and Molla found himself unmarked inside the box. But, rather than using his head, the 18-year-old tried to score the goal with an acrobatic kick and it went off target. 

In the fourth minute of added time, Mumbai City got a glorious opportunity to make it 3-0. Substitute Jayesh Rane dispossessed Fanai in the middle of the park and released Guarrotxena on the counter. The latter rounded the last man Valpuia and took a shot from a distance but Gurpreet timed his dive perfectly to avert the danger. The referee soon blew his full-time whistle as Mumbai City emerged victoriously with a 2-0 scoreline. 

Bengaluru is currently tenth on the points table with 15 points from 16 matches. The Blues will square off against a young Hyderabad side on Saturday and hope to pick up maximum points. 

Mumbai City, on the other hand, would be eyeing the top two spots to qualify directly to the semi-finals. The Islanders are currently in the fourth spot with 28 points from 14 matches and have an away trip to Chennaiyin on Friday. Anything less than a win would widen the gap between them and the top three of Odisha, Mohun Bagan Super Giant, and Goa.