FULL-TIME: Mumbai City FC 0-2 Northeast United FC
Northeast United: 4′ Rowllin Borges (Assist: Keegan Pereira); 33′ B. Ogbeche (Assist: Reagan Singh).
Northeast United are closer than ever in their quest to qualify for the playoffs for the first time while Mumbai City seem to be in a state of arrested development.
Northeast were on the front foot in the game early in the 4th minute when they took the lead. Keegan Pereira made a run up the left flank and into the box. The Mumbai defence got sucked in deeper trying to defend a possible cross – however Keegan cut the ball back into the oncoming Rowllin Borges who scored with a fantastic side-footed finish into the top corner.
A few minutes later, Mumbai had a great chance to level the scores, but Rafael Bastos’ shot from outside the box hit the post.
Through most of the game, NEUFC tactically tried and succeeded in isolating Mumbai’s fullbacks; and in the process, the Mumbai defence got drawn out leaving space for Ogbeche and Borges to exploit. Missing Lucian Goian and Subhashish Bose for tonight’s game, the Islanders looked naive in defence.
The Highlanders doubled their lead in the 33rd minute from a Gallego setup. With markers on him, Gallego released a ball to Reagan Singh who was in acres of space on the right flank. The Manipuri fullback sent a low ball in across the goal which managed to skip past three defenders and landed at Ogbeche’s feet who managed to shin it in.
Ogbeche’s goal gave Northeast United a 2-0 lead and he is now the top goalscorer in the league with 12 goals.
After the second half resumed, Mumbai tried to mount a comeback, but NEUFC were resolute in defence. They kept their shape and did not allow any space in the final third.
Paulo Machado was off-key tonight and that severely dented Mumbai’s chances of getting a result in tonight’s game. Machado, Rafeal Bastos and Arnold Issoko are some of the top primary & secondary assist creators this season. However, they barely feature in the Top Shooters/Creators graph tonight with Arnold Issoko trying hard, but the lack of quality with the final ball proved to be detrimental to the Islanders’ hopes of a comeback.
The running sum graph tonight also sees the Mumbai City line graph flat lining with no clear-cut chances further implying the lack of creativity in their play tonight. They’ve lost their third game on the trot and seemed to have lost all momentum in their campaign after the winter break.
Their next and last two fixtures of the season are against ATK and Pune City and these games are relatively winnable for a team as capable as Mumbai. With the teams below them having a game or two in hand, Mumbai will have to find results soon to disprove the adage, “Well-begun is half done.”