I League : Rejuvenated Mumbai FC win against Shillong Lajong


Mumbai FC 4 (Nicholas Rodrigues – 18th, Gabriel Fernandes – 20th, Justin Stephen – 82nd, ND Opara – 90th)


Shillong Lajong 1 (Sushil Singh – 75th)

PUNE: Mumbai FC scored a crucial 4-1 win against Shillong Lajong FC to move up the ladder to the middle of the table after the Round VI match at the Balewadi Sports Complex Stadium here on Saturday (November 17).

If it was Haroon Fakruddin Amiri’s brace that gave Mumbai FC their first win of the season last week, Saturday belonged to Nicholas Rodrigues, who opened the scoring and then set up Justin Stephen for the third goal as the ‘home’ team climbed to No 9 position with six points from six matches.

Shillong Lajong stayed at No 6 with 7 points, but this loss has dented their hopes of solidifying their position at the middle of the I League table.

With continuous breeze bringing the temperatures down, Mumbai FC made most of the conditions as Subhash Chakraborty and Gabriel Fernandes started the offensive from the start. Having got the chance to start, Gabriel was in his elements with his livewire runs up and down the pitch.

But it was Rodrigues who drew the first blood when he moved with the ball from left and shot into the post where Shillong Lajong goalkeeper Lacthuammawia Ralte rushed ahead to prevent onrushing Mumbai FC’s Justin Stephen.

The ball seemingly took deflection from Stephen, but the match commissioner deservedly awarded the goal to Rodrigues.

Two minutes later Subhash Chakraborty made the move from the middle and set up Yusif Yakubu in the box. As the Ghanaian striker was heavily marked he released the ball for fleet footed Gabriel Fernandes, who made no mistakes in tapping in for 2-0 lead.

Shillong Lajong seemed too defensive for first 25 minutes when Faizal Rehman fouled to hand a free-kick for the visitors 10 yards outside the box. But Lalramluaha Hmar’s shot flew over the post causing no harm to the Mumbai post.

Yakubu had a golden chance, but he shot into Ralte’s hands from close range in the 34th minute. Hmar was aggressive upfront, but he got little support from his fellow strikers.

Mumbai had yet another chance to increase their lead when Evans Quao made a move from the right and set up Ashutosh Mehta, but he shot into the approaching goalkeeper.

On changing ends, first 30 minutes saw both teams testing each other—rather Mumbai seemed happy with the lead but just before they got complacent, Shillong Lajong struck one to reduce the gap.

Sushash Singh had made the move and Sushil Kumar Singh executed the shot to send the ball into the nets as motley Meghalaya fans began rooting for Shillong in the 75th minute.

But Khalid Jamil was up on his feet and Nicholas Rodrigues was up to the task. His corner shot was textbook style that just kissed Justin Stephen’s head and went in from the acute angle. ND Opara, who went in for Yakubu joined the goal binge putting Mumbai FC 4-1 ahead.

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