Mumbai City FC make a happy homecoming with 2-1 win over Kerala Blasters FC

Mumbai City FC notched a narrow 2-1 victory over Kerala Blasters FC in their inaugural home fixture of the season at the Mumbai Football Arena

Mumbai City FC notched a narrow 2-1 victory over Kerala Blasters FC in their inaugural home fixture of the season at the Mumbai Football Arena

Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Lalengmawia Ralte scored in either halves for the Islanders, with Kerala’s central midfielder Danish Farooq slipping in with a strike between those two goals.

After a 1-2 win at Northeast and a 2-2 draw away at Odisha, the Islanders returned to their fortress, facing an in-form Kerala Blasters side riding high on back-to-back victories.

The away side kicked off proceedings with an early chance that saw Danish shoot wide. Mumbai City FC, adopting a wait-and-watch approach initially, soon turned up the heat. In the 8th minute, Greg Stewart orchestrated a brilliant through ball to Díaz, but the Kerala Blasters keeper, Sachin made a crucial save. Mumbai City continued to apply pressure, making penetrating moves, and keeping the Blasters’ defense on their toes.

Around the 23rd-minute mark, Lallianzuala Chhangte delivered a precise cross to Díaz in the box, but Sachin anticipated it well and collected the ball in time. As the half-hour mark approached, Akash Mishra earned a free-kick on the left wing, and Yoëll van Nieff’s teasing cross into the box evaded everyone, much to the respite of Kerala’s defense.

At the other end, Diamantakos, on a counter, tried to catch Phurba off guard with a shot from 35 yards out, but the Islanders’ keeper had it covered, letting it go comfortably for a goal kick. Moments later, Bipin on the left sent in a low cross that Apuia brilliantly let off to allow Díaz a strike on goal, but the latter’s shot was saved by the keeper. The Islanders soon upped their tempo with a series of crosses into the box, keeping the Blasters’ defense on their toes to clear it away.

The breakthrough finally came just before half-time when skipper Rahul Bheke’s low cross into the box took a deflection off a defender, forcing Sachin into a mistake in what should have been a regulation save. An ever-alert Pereyra Díaz capitalized on the opportunity, poking the ball into the net to give Mumbai the lead at 1-0. The first half ended with Mumbai in the ascendancy, holding a narrow lead.

The second half began with Mumbai City FC on the front foot again, winning an early corner. However, Rostyn Griffiths’ outstretched effort at the far post to a Greg Stewart cross sailed just over the bar. At the other end, Kerala Blasters intensified their efforts to find an equalizer, with Luna delivering a cross that Diamantakos couldn’t convert due to an alert Mehtab Singh’s block.

In the 57th minute, Rahul Bheke went down injured, but the referee allowed play to continue. Kerala capitalized on this, as an unmarked Sandeep sent in a precise cross that Danish Farooq converted in the center of the box to level the score at 1-1.

Mumbai City FC wasted no time in regaining the lead. Pereyra Díaz’s persistence forced a defensive error from Kerala Blasters. Apuia capitalized on the mistake, sneaking into the box behind Pritam Kotal to head home the second goal of the night, much to the delight of the home fans.

Tempers flared as the game entered its closing moments, resulting in send-offs for players from both sides. Milos Drincic and Yoell Van Nieff were shown the red card, while Prabir Das received a yellow. Despite the late drama, Mumbai City FC managed the game effectively, forcing fouls, back-to-back corners, and ultimately slowing down the pace, not allowing Blasters any sniff at goal.

As the full-time whistle blew, Mumbai City FC secured a 2-1 victory, kicking off their home campaign with three crucial points. Mumbai City FC will now head back to their AFC Champions League campaign as they prepare to face Al-Hilal away from home.

Also Read: India lose to experienced Tajikistan despite David Laltlansanga hattrick

Also Read: Punjab FC secured their first points in the Indian Super League

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