Mumbai City FC edged NorthEast United FC 2-1 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati to commence their Indian Super League (ISL) campaign with all 3 points on Sunday.
The home team’s Parthib Gogoi’s goal in the 32nd minute was sandwiched between twin strikes by Argentine striker Jorge Pereyra Diaz in the 26th and the 38th minute to hand the Islanders a hard-fought win.
Des Buckingham’s men seemed to have picked up from where they had left it last season, with their frontline functioning in tandem straight from kick-off. Bipin Singh dropped down in the middle to receive a pass from midfielder Lalengmawia Ralte to initiate the move for the first strike of the night. The winger played an incisive through ball for Lallianzuala Chhangte inside the box, who squared off a pass that was tapped in by Diaz to round off a neat offensive endeavour by the visitors.
NorthEast United FC responded strongly as they gradually began pressing higher up in the quest for the equaliser. Asheer Akhtar swiftly cleared a ball from the backline that was received by Gogoi on the inside of the left flank a few yards away from the box. The winger demonstrated some fine footwork to cut in and shot from the long-range in an effort that took Islanders’ goalkeeper Mohammad Nawaz aback. The custodian dived to his left but couldn’t get his hand behind the ball amidst a joyous eruption from the home crowd.
Mumbai City FC appeared to be eager to regain the lead and the duo of Chhangte and Diaz were at the centre of the move that helped them to do so. Six minutes later, Dutch midfielder Yoell van Nieff played a simple pass to the Indian attacker that he used to lob in a cross to Mehtab Singh on the far post. The defender headed the ball in Diaz’s path as the forward demonstrated his razor-sharp instincts in extending his leg forward and managing to get the ball into the back of the net.
The Islanders embraced a more cautious approach to hold on to their lead as the game progressed. Mohammed Ali Bemammer kicked off an attacking move for NorthEast United FC that resulted in Manvir Singh leaping high in an attempt to head the ball into the Islanders' net. However, Nawaz showed greater assurance this time to collect it calmly and steer his side to an emphatic victory in this fiercely competitive away fixture.