Mumbai FC went down fighting 1-2 to Mohammedan SC in a final round I-League encounter at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Sunday.
Striker Ebi Sukore (20th minute) put Mumbai FC in the lead before Taro Hasegawa (25th) pulled the visitors level five minutes later. A late strike from attacker Penn Orji (85th) handed Mohammedan all three points.
The loss meant Mumbai FC (28pts) slipped a place to ninth in the table equal on points with eight-placed Mohun Bagan but behind on goal-difference.
After an equally fought opening quarter, it was Mumbai FC who went close first. Sukore found himself clear inside the box but his effort saved by an outstretched keeper.
However, a minute later Sukore made no mistake giving Mumbai FC the lead as his header off defender Rahul Bheke’s long throw-in looped past Ashok Singh in the Mohammedan goal.
The hosts’ lead lasted just five minutes as Taro equalised at the other end. Skipping past a couple of defenders on the left with some quick footwork, the Japanese unleashed a dipping shot that hit the underside of the crossbar before going in.
Both teams continued to attack thereafter but finishing in the final third was missing. However, Mohammedan had a glorious chance to take the lead when Josimar Martins set free only to be denied by goalkeeper Kunal Sawant from the point blank range.
Both teams went into the breather tied at 1-1.
The second half began with Mumbai FC pushing ahead in search of the lead.
Ten minutes into the second period, young medio Cletus Paul made his debut for the hosts. The youngster recently played in the U19 I-League and was the latest addition to the Mumbai FC senior from their academy.
Six minutes later, the visitors went close. This time, Orji’s shot from distance was saved by Kunal. The stray ball fell for Josimar inside the box but the Brazilian missed a sitter from four yards out.
At the other end, Mumbai FC went close but Bheke’s shot from inside the box was saved by the ‘keeper.
Five minutes from the final whistle, Josimar chased down a long ball and set up Orji inside the box. The playmaker made no mistake in slotting home from close to hand Mohammedan a win.