Mumbai FC go down fighting against Bagan

Mumbai FC went down fighting to a resurgent Mohun Bagan 0-2 in a 13th round I-League match at the at the Barasat District Sports Stadium, Kolkata on Sunday evening.

The Kolkata side, who were fully charged up following their impressive 4-0 away win against South China AA in the AFC Cup early this week, struck once in each half through Yusa Katsumi (34th minute) and Sony Norde (62nd minute) to seal the win.

Mumbai FC coach Khalid Jamil who missed the services of his key foreign recruits for the last several rounds finally had the option of playing all his four foreigners – skipper and medio Taisuke Matsugae and defender Min-Chol Son, both returning from injuries and regular midfielder Eric Brown and striker Ryuki Kozawa. Japanese-born Indian Izumi Arata also returned for the game and Thiyam Chingkheinganba got his first start in the midfield.

Clifford Miranda, who is nursing an injury, did not travel with the team, while Sushil Kumar Singh, Shilton D’Silva and Hitesh Sharma were left out from the playing eleven and on the substitute bench.

The home side, without coach, Sanjoy Sen serving the first of his eight-match suspension imposed by AIFF, started with skipper Yusa Katsumi on the bench and Manish Baghav getting a start.

The Mumbai club, who had done creditably well to keep the lethal Bagan strikers Sony Norde, Cornell Glen and Jeje in check in the previous meeting, played with same kind of determination and the initial exchanges were more or less even. Mumbai FC’s roving forward Kozawa with some darting runs harried Bagan’s midfielder Bhargav and managed to have a couple of attempts at goal. In 24th minute he picked up the ball after Bhargav lost possession, but his shot was saved by goalkeeper Debjit who did well to push the ball away for a corner. Three minutes later, Kozawa again broke free and again fails to beat Debjit who comfortably collected the ball.

The home side immediately replaced Bhargav with Katsumi Yusa coming to bolster the midfield in the 29thminute.

Yusa instantly made his presence felt with a clinical finish. Glen and Jeje worked in tandem before the latter found Yusa unmarked on the right and he easily beat goalkeeper Pawan Kumar to give Bagan the lead in the 34th minute.

Mumbai FC continued to fight and search for the equalizer as Eric Brown and Kozawa try to break through but without much luck. Towards the other end, Mumbai citadel survived a scare as Norde hopelessly missed with an open goal in front in the first minute of additional time of the first half.

After switching sides, the Mumbai outfit made plenty of concerted efforts to try and penetrate deep into the rival territory, but the Bagan defence marshaled by Luciano Sarbaso held back the threats from the visitors before Sony Norde scored from a free-kick to double the lead in the 62th minute.

Thereafter, Mumbai FC pressed hard but without much success and finished with another defeat, their fourth defeat in six away games. The other two ended in draws.

The Mumbai team stays in fifth place with 12 points from as many matches. Bagan, who are the only unbeaten team, remain in pole position with 25 points.

Mumbai FC will travel to Bengaluru to take on Bengaluru FC (April 2) and East Bengal (April 5) before returning back to Mumbai to play the final two matches at home against Shillong Lajong (April 17) and DSK Shivajians (April 24).

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