PUNE: As the final whistle blew, Khalid Jamil bent down and kissed the turf. This was a famous win and a second on the trot as Mumbai FC beat rivals Pune FC 2-1 in the round 13 Airtel I-league fixture at Balewadi Sports Complex on Saturday.
Victory would be sweeter this time for Mumbai FC who got one over their more fancied rivals Pune FC in what was their home fixture.
This was Mumbai’s first win in two years over Pune FC.
After a frantic start to the season, against all expectations, Mumbai broke free on the left flank as the sheer pace of Nicholas Rodrigues took him past Pune FC rightback Fanai Lalrempuia.
And his pinpoint low cross into the box was met with a neat sliding finish from NP Pradeep. It was only the 12th minute of the game and Mumbai FC had drawn first blood in this derby.
Mumbai coach Khalid Jamil raced from the touchline to greet his players who had gathered together at the corner flag.
This was an important moment of the match, and they knew the hosts had to do the chasing now.
Both teams played with a sense of urgency as the match kept swinging from one end of the pitch to the other.
Pune FC who were under pressure after trailing kept creating half chances as James Meyer hit the side netting from 30 yards out before skipper Anas Edathodika headed a corner wide.
Meanwhile coming on the back of a morale boosting 3-2 win over East Bengal, Mumbai FC looked almost unrecognizable from the early part of the season and were keen on making up for lost ground.
Pune FC kept pressing and after some neat work on the flanks by James Meyer, the Australian, who sent in a floated cross for striker Riga Mustapha.
The lanky forward leaped in the air to meet the ball with an acrobatic bicycle kick which managed to land into the hands of Kunal Sawant.
With minutes left for half time to approach, there was a moment of magic from Ivorian Douhou Pierre. After collecting the ball on the right flank near the centre, Pierre went on a mad run first to the centre and then after dancing around near the penalty area he picked out a sublime pass for Arata Izumi.
The only way one could do justice to the effort was to send it past the keeper.
And Arata did not disappoint as the parity was restored and Pune roared back into the match.
Haroon Amiri’s marauding run from the centre took him into the penalty area and they were done a huge disservice by the referees who handed the home side a lifeline.
Amiri was shoved from the back by Gurjinder Kumar for all to see. The referee and the linesman both missed the call as Pune FC were handed a breather.
After a slow start to the second half, Mumbai went ahead agains and the architect of the goal again this time was Nicholas Rodrigues.
A chip into the box was struck on half volley by Nigerian Yusif Yakubu as Pune FC custodian Amrinder Singh had no chance.
Pune were left to chase again.
Mumbai suffered a setback as they lost their best player Haroon Amiri to a hamstring injury and was replaced by Manuel D’Souza.
Bodies kept falling down for Mumbai as this time another key man Yusif Yakubu suffered a muscle strain and had to be replaced.
With just minutes left for full time, Pune FC were handed a free-kick just outside the box when Nikhil Kadam was brought down.
Calum Angus’ effort did not beat the wall and the ball was cleared to safety. And there was no fightback from Pune FC.