MUMBAI: Mumbai City FC went seven points clear at the top of the table after a comfortable 4-0 victory over NorthEast United FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai.
Ahmed Jahouh, Jorge Diaz, and Vinit Rai were on target for the Islanders. The third goal of the match was classified as Alex Saji own goal.
The result was another example of their dominance this season – in all, Mumbai City FC have now scored 45 goals in 15 games, putting them just a goal behind FC Goa’s league stage record of 46 goals in 2019-20 with five games to go.
Des Buckingham made four changes to his side that saw Mourtada Fall, Lalengmawia Ralte, Rai and Diaz return to the starting XI to replace Rostyn Griffiths, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Rowllin Borges and Alberto Noguera. Vincenzo Annese made two changes that saw Romain Philippoteaux and Rochharzela replace Jon Gaztanaga and Emil Benny.
Annese tweaked his tactics specifically for Mumbai City FC, but the gamble did not pay off as the visitors found themselves three goals down inside the opening 15 minutes of the game. A deflected Ahmed Jahouh free-kick handed the hosts an early lead five minutes into the game.
Immediately after the goal, the Highlanders hovered near the Mumbai City FC box but failed to penetrate the staunch defence. Six minutes after the opener, the Islanders doubled their lead after Lallianzuala Chhangte’s tricky run was thwarted by the defence only to put the loose ball into the path of Diaz, who scored his ninth goal of the season.
After scoring the second, Diaz was involved in a smooth one-touch-pass move that ended with Greg Stewart’s shot deflected into the goal by Saji. For the second time in three weeks, Mumbai City FC had dismantled their opponents inside the opening quarter of the game.
At half-time, Rai was allowed too much space by the NorthEast United defence about 25 yards away from goal. The full-back tried his luck from range and his scorching effort flew into the top left corner of goal. The Highlanders were reduced to ten men after Wilmar Gil’s swinging arm impeded on Diaz near the halfway line straight after kick-off.
In the second half, Mumbai City FC lowered the tempo and took complete control of the game. However, the Islanders were still hovering near the NorthEast United FC box, constantly looking for openings in the defence. Three minutes from time, Diaz had the opportunity to add another goal to his tally from the penalty spot. However, the Argentine’s penalty was saved by Mirshad Michu.
Mumbai City FC are now seven points clear at the top of the table now. Hyderabad FC can cut the deficit back down to four if they win their game against East Bengal FC tomorrow. As for the Islanders, their next challenge will be a game against Jamshedpur FC on January 27. NorthEast United
FC were handed their 13th defeat of the season and they will Kerala Blasters FC next on January 29. (ANI)