Controversial penalty lifts Dempo against disgruntled Mumbai FC

Mumbai FC suffered a body blow in their bid to secure a top half finish in the Hero I-League when a late penalty helped Dempo S.C edge Mumbai FC 1-0 in a tight affair at Cooperage on Saturday evening.

Khalid Jamil named a similar side to the side which drew against Bengaluru FC but was without Taisuke Matsugae who continued to recover from a calf problem.

The game endured a slow start with both teams struggling to get into any kind of a rhythm. Dempo’s Lenny Rodrigues came up with the first genuine attempt of the game when he blazed over after receiving a lay off from Carlos Hernandez in the 16th minute.

The right flank of Dempo was seeing plenty of action with Jayesh Rane and Haroon Fakhruddin Amiri indulging in a good battle on the pitch.

Amiri very nearly proved to be decisive in the 24th minute, after a crisp Dempo move saw him ease past John Coutinho on the edge of the box and make space for a fierce shot towards the Mumbai FC goal. Fortunately for the hosts, the effort went over the crossbar.

Both the sides lacked the spark to penetrate each other’s solid defences and had to resort to long range shooting. Dempo’s Peter Carvalho nearly succeeded in an attempt from twenty five yards when his shot went agonisingly wide of the left hand side post in the 35th minute.

Two minutes later, Jayesh Rane broke free of his marker on the right to send in a vicious cross which almost picked out Josimar Da Silva but Laxmikant Kattimani’s alert goalkeeping as smothered the cross ahead of the Brazilian striker.

Mohammed Rafi was unlucky not put Mumbai FC ahead in the final minute of the half when latched on to a loose clearance by a Dempo defender to fire just over from inside the box.

There was nothing to choose between the two sides at the break with both teams having struggled to get on the front foot in the game.

Dempo were finding space to shoot from a distance quite regularly in the game and they very nearly made Mumbai FC pay for it when Carlos Hernandez was millimetres away from handing the visitors the lead with a cracking effort in the 56th minute.

Chika Wali got his name taken by the referee as he blatantly brought down the Dempo striker who had got a yard on him. Sanjiban Ghosh did well to clear the danger from the resultant free kick.

Two minutes post the hour mark, Mumbai FC very nearly conjured up a perfect move when some brilliant interplay between Sampath Kutty Mani and Jayesh Rane saw the latter in space in front of the Dempo goal but his final effort was too weak to trouble Laxmikant Kattimani in goal.

Six minutes later, Mumbai FC made their first substitution as Pradeep Mohanraj replaced John Coutinho. Pradeep Mohanraj made an almost perfect impact as his header from a long throw-in was cleared off the line by Lenny Rodrigues

Mumbai FC started pushing Dempo back into their own half with the visitors content to absorb the pressure and hit Mumbai FC on the break. With that in mind, Trevor Morgan made a double change as Sushil Kumar Singh and Francis Fernandes replaced Joy Ferrao and Alwyn George in the 73rd minute.

Mumbai FC peppered the Dempo box with some many aerial balls the Dempo defence coped with it very well. Milagres Gonsalves who came on in the 77th minute in place of Mohammed Rafi was replaced just ten minutes later for Abhishek Yadav.

But the decisive moment of the game came in the first of five added minutes, when referee K.Venkatesh pointed to the spot after he found Sampath Kutty Mani guilty of tripping Carlos Rodrigues in the box.

Carlos Rodrigues who was adjudged as the man of the match before the start of stoppage time coolly converted the spot kick sending Sanjiban Ghosh in the wrong way, sparking celebrations in the Dempo dugout.

Mumbai FC had virtually no time to recover from this blow as they went down to the late penalty. It was a highly controversial decision by the referee as there seemed to be minimal contact between the two players.

Mumbai FC paid the price of a poor decision and overall sluggishness in their play. Dempo dislodged Mumbai FC from the seventh place in the I-League charts with the win.

A draw would probably have been a fair reflection of the game, but Dempo were rewarded for a fantastic defensive display which made life very difficult for the Mumbai FC front line.

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