Dika & Friedrich score as Mumbai City stun Atletico de Kolkata

Mumbai City FC

Mumbai: Lalrindika Ralte and Manuel Friedrich scored on either side of the halftime, but more importantly their goals came in the winning cause of Mumbai City FC, which gave themselves a glimmer of hope in qualifying to the semifinals as they beat Atletico de Kolkata 2-1 at the D.Y. Patil Stadium here on Sunday evening.

Lying at the bottom of the heap after 12 matches, Mumbai made the most of the opportunity after Delhi’s win against Pune City on Saturday opened up the qualification race for the last two spots.

Ralte had opened the account for Mumbai City FC in the 40th minute, but after the change of ends Baljit Sahni pulled back the match on level for third-placed Atletico de Kolkata.

German Friedrich then fired what became the winning goal in the 76th minute to give Mumbai a well-deserving win just when it mattered the most. As things now stands after 13 matches Mumbai have 15 points and are in 7th position, while Kolkata remain on the No 3 spot with the final round of league matches remaining to be played.

Playing at home, Mumbai City began well with Nicolas Anelka making moves early on. As early as in the fifth minute, Anelka pushed into the Kolkata forte and played a neat pass inside the box, but the visiting goalkeeper Apoula Edel made a confident save.

But Mumbai City suffered in the 14th minute when their captain Syed Rahim Nabi crashed onto the ground. The defender apparently injured his hamstring and was stretchered out.

Anelka was in imperious form running with the ball and creating chances. In the 32nd minute it was, however, Jan Stohanzl who overstepped and moved away from a defender before taking a left-footed shot. The shot did not have enough power to bother Apoula, who dived to his left to make a comfortable save.

A few minutes earlier Dika was shown a yellow card, but his enthusiasm was intact. Tiago Ribeiro moved with the ball on the right wing and set up Ralte on the minus. Ralte took a first time left footer to find the net in the 40th minute. Mumbai City took the 1-0 lead into the break.

Anelka was not to stay idle. He rolled the ball for Asif outside the 18-yard box in the 51st minute. Asif came charging and took a first time right-footed shot to rattle the woodwork. That could have been the second for the home side, nonetheless it was a magnificent effort.

Mumbai City was in for a shock when substitute Baljit Sahni struck within five minutes coming onto the field. Captain Luis Garcia played for Borja Fernandez, who sent in a nice pass to Baljit, who tapped the ball inside the net for a surprise equalizer.

Mumbai City, however, had the last laugh as Friedrich collected a superb delivery from a Dika free-kick towards the far past. The German made a good run and headed the ball inside the goal before Mumbai City did well to hold on to the lead and the win.

Mumbai City FC coach Peter Reid was obviously satisfied with the result but refused to look at the possibility of his team making it to semis. “We were not looking at semis, we were just focusing on going out there and win the game. It was a superb performance by Ralte, and a brilliant header by Friedrich. It was a wonderful atmosphere and a great game.”

“We are not going to look at the mathematical possibilities. We are just going to go out and try to beat NorthEast United in our next game,” he said.

Striker Abhishek Yadav said, “I missed out on some chances, but I am happy with the end result. The team winning is more important than me scoring.”

Result: Mumbai City FC 2 (Lalrindka Ralte 40, Manuel Freidrich 76) bt Atletico De Kolkata 1 (Baljit Sahni 60)

Swift Movement of the Match: Subrata Pal; Fittest player of the Match: Borja; Emerging player of the Match: Asif Kottayil; Hero Man of the Match: Lalrindka Ralte

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