ISL: Chhangte inspires Mumbai City to comeback win over FC Goa

Mumbai City players celebrate a goal against FC Goa. Photo: ISL

Mumbai City FC inspired a sensational late resurgence to come back from 2-0 down to win the first leg of their semi-final fixture against FC Goa by 3-2 at the Fatorda Stadium in the Indian Super League on Wednesday.

The Gaurs, powered by strikes by Boris Singh and Brandon Fernandes, looked like they would be sealing off a key win in this last-four match as they maintained a comfortable 2-0 lead until the 90th minute of the match. However, it was a game where the in-form stars of both teams came to the fore and delivered tangible outputs to produce one of the most iconic playoff matches in the ISL.

Boris and Brandon have been the key men for FC Goa upfront lately, with the latter in-fact now having netted in three consecutive league matches. However, the Islanders pulled off the absolute unthinkable, scoring thrice in the final six-odd minutes of the match to grab a hold of this crucial victory, thanks to a brace by Lallianzuala Chhangte accompanied by a goal by Vikram Partap Singh.

Boris opened the floodgates in the 16th minute by tapping in a straightforward square delivery by attacking midfielder Mohammed Yasir. Receiving a long ball on the left flank, Yasir sprinted into the box and sliced in a low cross that was converted into a goal with ease by Boris. Earlier, Mumbai City FC defender Akash Mishra picked up a knock and had to be replaced with Valpuia in the 13th minute of the match.

Chances came far and few in between for the Islanders, with Goa keeping their backline neatly arranged. Manolo Marquez & Co. struck the perfect balance of deft teamwork and individual brilliance upfront, often surprising the Mumbai City FC backline with a smart mix of the two. Their second goal in the 56th minute was a product of the latter, with Brandon breaking free with the ball and depositing the ball into the top corner of the net for the second game running.

It appeared that the result had been cast over the game even before the final whistle had blown, as the Gaurs professionally managed proceedings until the 90th minute mark. But owing to the indomitable spirit of the Islanders, they were starved of a victory in a clash that they held the upper hand over for the major chunk of the game.

Jayesh Rane had a key role to play in both of Chhangte’s goals, setting them up with his slick deliveries amidst close spaces inside the FC Goa box. The first one came amidst a quick break where Chhangte picked the ball from the left side of the six-yard box to slide it into the bottom right corner after a precise through ball from Rane. Vikram’s strike two minutes later was through a rebound, with the attacker perfectly placed on the run to collect and hammer the ball in to equalize the scores. Finally, Chhangte capped off the game a few minutes later with a goal fairly identical to his first one of the night. Just like the previous one, it came off a through ball by Rane, but Chhangte was positioned at the centre of the box this time and showed razor-sharp accuracy to net the winner and bring the curtains down to this enthralling encounter.

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