Mumbai, December 6: Mumbai City FC continued their fine run in the Indian Super League with a 2-0 win over Chennaiyin FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday (December 6).
Local boy Raynier Fernandes (27th minute) and Modou Sougou (55th minute) were on the scoresheet for the hosts as the win took them to the second spot on the points table 23 points behind Bengaluru FC who have played a game less.
Coming into the game on the back of a five-game unbeaten run, Mumbai were determined to continue the form against the defending champions as well. But even in that much-lauded run, it was the way the Islanders approached their games that drew criticism. And things were no different against Chennaiyin too.
The hosts chose to sit back and let Chennaiyin have a larger share of the ball in the opening exchanges. Though they didn’t have much of the possession, the Islanders were smart to cut the supply, forcing the visitors to think out of the box. With the likes of Rafael Agusto, Anirudh Thapa and Carlos Salom in their ranks, you would have hoped the champions would find a way to unsettle the opposition, but for anyone who’s remotely followed this season, knew Chenniayin and creativity have been close nemesis so far.
It was not just the creativity that this side lacked, Chennaiyin barely seemed pumped for the game and with their shoulders down, missed-place passes, silly defensive errors and careless man-marking crept into their game soon.
It was one such mistake by Thapa that allowed Mumbai to have their first real chance of the game. An unnecessary back pass saw the ball fall in the path of Sougou, who charged ahead and let one fly at the Chennaiyin goal. But fortunately for them, skipper Mailson Alves was quick to read the danger and threw himself on the firing line to take the sting out of that shot.
.@papesougou added to Raynier Fernandes' first-half strike to ensure @MumbaiCityFC collected all 3⃣ points against title-holders @ChennaiyinFC on home soil.#MUMCHE #LetsFootball #FanBannaPadega pic.twitter.com/QBCan1PDce— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) December 6, 2018
Unable to find a way through the Mumbai maze, the visitors then chose to sit back. Though they did well to intercept and close down space, they couldn’t maintain the intensity needed for their pressing style. And as soon as Chennaiyin let their foot off the pedal, Mumbai punished them.
It started with Rafael Bastos finding too much time on the ball to find an unmarked Fernandes a few yards from the Chennaiyin penalty area. He then had enough time to take a clean touch, measure his shot and drill one into the bottom left corner of the goal to give Mumbai the lead.
Chennaiyin could have hit back before the lemon break, but this time to was Thoi Singh — one of the few to have had a respectable season in the champions’ colours — chose to go for glory from the by-line rather than turning it in for his team-mate.
That mistake, however, didn’t go unpunished as Mumbai added another to put the result beyond doubt in the second half. This time it was Inigo Calderon’s back pass that started a Mumbai move which ended with the ball being deposited in the Chennaiyin goal after Bastos went on an inspiring run before Sougou nodded in the ricochet after the initial shot was blocked.