FULL-TIME: Mumbai City FC 1-0 Bengaluru FC
Mumbai City FC: Paulo Machado [29′, Assist: Rafael Bastos]
Mumbai City FC go top of the table with a resolute performance to break Bengaluru FC’s unbeaten streak in the league.
In a way, this defeat was a long time in the making. Miku has missed the last seven games for Bengaluru FC. Coincidentally, Sunil Chhetri hasn’t scored in the last six including tonight’s game. Miku has the ability to create a chance and score a goal out of nowhere – and the Blues severely missed that atrribute tonight.
Through the winter months in the abscene of Miku and Sunil Chhetri’s goal drought, Bengaluru FC somehow managed to scrape through unscathed thanks to a odd goal or two from Udanta Singh, Rahul Bheke and the Bhutanese forward Chencho among others.
Tonight, lacking a focal point in attack, Bengaluru FC tried to use Xisco as a false nine for a while, but it was pretty much the case of square pegs filling round holes.
The Islanders on the other hand came equipped for the challenge. The front three of Modou Sougou, Rafael Bastos looked like a set of springbolts loaded and waiting for the captain Paulo Machado to pull the trigger and set them free. Bengaluru FC defence this season have been vulnerable on the counter and their lack of pace has seen them jittery when being run at – Mumbai capitalised on this exact aspect.
A Rafael Bastos pass split the Bengaluru FC defence who were playing a high line to enforce the offside trap. The pass found Paulo Machado on the right flank who ran towards the goal with Issoko sprinting through to the center. Paulo Machado gave the Bengaluru keeper Gurpreet the eyes and while everyone was assuming he would square the ball the Issoko, he finished with a fantastic low strike past the keeper.
Down a goal and chasing the game, Bengaluru FC brought in Bhutanese forward Chencho into the mix. But the forward was on the periphery of the game as Mumbai brought their defensive acumen to the fore. Mumbai had kept five clean sheets in a eight-game unbeaten steak going into this game and they out-muscled the Bengaluru attack.
The Expected Graphs Graph for tonight’s game shows Bengaluru FC with multiple attempts on goal, but their poor control in the final third and equally poor finishing when a half-chance presented itself proved to be their undoing. For the most part, the wing play lacked energy and the midfield looked lethargic and out of ideas. Sunil Chhetri (Top Shooter xG) had a few decent chances to score, but the captain failed to put on his shooting boots.
Their creativity in play has seemed to have taken a beating in their last few games with the overall team xG (chance quality) metric sees them in sixth place below Chennai and Kerala.
In fact, Mumbai’s Modou Sougou (Top Shooter xG) looked like he could score a brace tonight as Bengaluru persisted with trying to play him offside, but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu intervened.
As Mumbai City go top of the league, it’s probably the best possible time for Bengaluru to lose a game. With a game in hand and Miku close to full fitness, they will have time to refocus on what went wrong and come back stronger.