Mumbai FC make Salgaocar pay the penalty, earn 2-2 draw

Mumbai, March 5: A determined Mumbai FC made Salgaocar SC, Goa pay the ‘penalty’, as twice in arrears, they fought back strongly to clinch a deserving 2-2 draw with the Goans in a 12th round I-League match at the Tilak Maidan, Vasco, Goa, on Saturday. Jackichand Singh (23rd minute) and Brian Mascarenhas (49th minute) scored for Salgaocar, while the Mumbai side scored from two penalties through Sushil Kumar Singh (38th minute) and Ryuki Kozawa (65th minute).

Mumbai FC coach Khalid Jamil decided to make four changes to the team which played against Aizawl FCon Wednesday. Midfielders Shilton D’Silva and Hitesh Sharma got their first start while striker Sushil Kumar Singh and goalkeeper Pawan Kumar returned to the playing eleven. Clyde Fernandes, Darren Caldeira, Cletus Paul and goalkeeper Sanjiban Ghosh were left out for this match.

The visiting Mumbai outfit started on an attacking mode and in the 11th minute stand-in captain, Eric Brown, the heart of their attack, was unlucky to see his free-kick take a deflection off a Salgaocar defender and narrowly miss the target. A couple of minutes later, Mumbai striker Ryuki Kozawa did well to break free, but he was unable to keep his shot on goal.

However, it was Salgaocar, who managed to draw first blood with their diminutive striker Jackichand Singh capitalizing on some poor defending to fire past goalkeeper Pawan Kumar in the 23rd minute.

Mumbai seemed unfazed by that setback and started to push forward. Their persistence was rewarded when Sushil, who was chasing Hitesh’s lob inside the box, was fouled by Salgaocar’s Reegan Singh. Referee Animesh Biswas had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and booked Reegan in the 37th minute. Sushil picked up the ball and easily beat goalkeeper Karanajit Singh sending him the wrong way to put Mumbai on level terms. There was no further damage to either goal as the first half finished at 1-1.

Immediately after the restart, the Goans regained the lead when substitute Brian Mascarenhas, who had come in for Alesh Sawant midway through the first half, scored from the left side of the area as he beat goalkeeper Pawan Kumar hands down in the 49th minute.

Later, Brian twice denied Pratik Chowdhary from getting the equalizer in the 62nd minute. First, Pratik did well to get to the end of Eric Brown’s flag kick but his header was cleared by Brian. The ball came back to Pratik and this time his firm header was saved on the goalline by Brian, much to the dismay of visitors.

Jamil in a bid to add depth in the attack introduced their influential midfielder Taisuke Matsugae, who has just recuperated from a calf injury, for young Hitesh who had a good game.

Almost instantly Mumbai from a snap raid earned a second penalty when a Salgaocar defender under pressure handled the ball and the referee pointed to the ‘spot’ in the 65th minute. Japanese recruit Kozawa stepped forward and blasted the ball home past Karanjit to once again cancel out the Goan’s lead.

Thereafter, both teams worked hard and tried to create clear scoring opportunities, but failed to find another goal another and were forced to settle for an honourable 2-2 draw.

This was the third successive 2-2 result for Mumbai FC, who will continue to stay in fifth position with 12 points from 11 games, while Salgaocar from the same number of games are placed eighth with nine points.

Mumbai FC will travel to Kolkata to take on Mohun Bagan (March 13), followed by 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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