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Mumbai City FC end historic AFC Champions League campaign with win

By Pti
Mumbai City FC end AFC Champions League with a win over Air Force Club of Iraq (Image Courtesy: Mumbai City)

Riyadh, April 27: Indian Super League side Mumbai City FC ended their historic AFC Champions League (ACL) campaign on a winning note, defeating Air Force Club of Iraq 1-0 in their last group match in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

A first half strike from Diego Maurício (31st minute) secured Mumbai City all the three points at the King Fahd International Stadium on Tuesday (April 26) night.

It was their second win in the continent's top-tier club competition in their debut appearance after their 2-1 victory over the same opponents in the first match of the double round-robin group league.

Mumbai City ended second in Group B, which itself is a huge achievement, with seven points from six matches. They had also played out a goal-less draw against Al Jazira of UAE.

But the Des Buckingham-coached Mumbai City missed out a Round of 16 berth as his side could not be one of the three best second-placed finishers across all five groups. All the five group winners and the three best second-placed finishers qualify for the Round of 16 in the West Zone.

Air Force Club came into the tie on the back of their 3-2 win over Al Jazira of UAE, while Mumbai City had fallen to a fourth defeat of their campaign, losing 6-0 to Saudi Arabia's Al Shabab.

Air Force Club quickly took control of the game with Alaa Abbas forcing Mumbai City goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa into a finger-tip save when he tried from distance in the sixth minute.

Mumbai City, however, were equal to the task, getting their first attempt three minutes later when Vikram Singh threaded a pass through the Air Force Club defenders for Lallianzuala Chhangte, but the midfielder's shot was foiled by goalkeeper Mohammed Mejbel.

Air Force Club continued to apply pressure with Abbas missing his effort from inside the box in the 11th minute, while Dhurgham Ismail and Ibrahim Bayesh were also wasteful in their efforts.

The Iraqis came close again in the 23rd minute when Shareef Abdul Kadhim sent a wonderful cross into the box but Lachenpa showed quick reflexes to deny Wilson Akakpo's header from close range.

Despite being pegged in defence, Mumbai City produced a remarkable attacking move to score in the 31st minute when Mejbel failed to hold on to Bradden Inman's shot from distance, leaving Maurício with the simple task of a tap-in.

Air Force Club came out fighting after the restart with Abdul Kadhim trying from distance in the 50th minute after a nice layoff from Ismail, while Mustafa Mohammed missed his effort from inside the box off a corner.

In a bid to find the equaliser, Air Force Club sent Hammadi Ahmad in place of Abdul Kadhim in the 57th minute and his presence almost paid dividends four minutes later with Bayesh forcing a save from Lachenpa but despite their best efforts, Mumbai City waked away with the win.

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Story first published: Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 17:24 [IST]
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