Mumbai City FC reclaim No. 1 spot after a dominant win over East Bengal FC

A rejuvenated Mumbai City FC didn’t miss a beat from where they had left off, as they eased past East Bengal FC to reclaim top spot in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) table.

Lalengmawia Ralte bagged a brace and Greg Stewart got on the scoresheet for the third time this season as the Torch Bearers failed to secure points in their 50th Hero ISL game.

Midfielder Charis Kyriakou returned to the starting XI for the hosts as Jordan O’Doherty missed the match due to an injury. For the visitors, there were two changes in the back-four. Mourtada Fall made his second start of the season to replace the injured Rostyn Griffiths, and Mandar Dessai replaced Vignesh Dakshinamurthy at left-back.

Mumbai City FC almost snatched the lead inside five minutes when Lallianzuala Chhangte beat Ivan Gonzalez on the right side before playing it into the path of Stewart. The Scotsman took a touch before unleashing a powerful shot from a tight angle that was partially blocked by Kamaljit Singh. As the ball rolled towards the goal, Ankit Mukherjee cleared it off the line.

East Bengal FC were resilient, but their resistance was broken in the 26th minute when Ralte skipped the offside trap and pounced on a clever through ball from Stewart before calmly slotting it past Kamaljit. A little over five minutes later, Ahmed Jahouh’s corner was volleyed onto the bar from close range by Fall.

Five minutes into the second half, Stewart established a two-goal cushion. The East Bengal FC defenders failed to close the midfielder down, as he fired the ball in from the edge of the box. The Islanders made easy work of the third goal in the 59th minute. Chhangte, Bipin Singh, and Jorge Diaz played a series of quick passes in front of East Bengal’s defence before Ralte bagged his second of the night.

East Bengal had few moments of spark in the game. One of them came from substitute Eliandro dos Santos, whose goal-bound shot from inside the box was put out for a corner courtesy of a brilliant last-ditch block from Fall. In the 84th minute, substitute Tuhin Das let one fly from range as it went past Phurba Lachenpa and came off the upright.

In the dying minutes of the game, Vikram Singh went down in the box after a challenge from Jerry Lalrinzuala and the Islanders were awarded a penalty. Substitute Gurkirat Singh stepped up to take it but couldn’t make it 4-0 for Mumbai City FC.

The win takes Mumbai City FC to the top of the table, two points clear of Hyderabad FC. The Islanders will be in action on Christmas Eve at home against Chennaiyin FC. Meanwhile, East Bengal FC remain eighth on the table with nine points. The Torch Bearers will get an extended break before hosting Bengaluru FC on December 30, Friday.

Key Stats:
– Mehtab Singh had 103 touches of the ball and finished with a passing accuracy of 99%
– Kamaljit Singh faced 16 shots on the night and made 6 saves
– Mourtada Fall finished the game with 2 blocks and 2 clearances

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