Ten-man Mumbai FC recorded their first home win and did it in style defeating heavy-weights East Bengal 3-2 in an I-League Round-12 encounter at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune on Monday.
Mumbai FC took the lead through striker Yusif Yakubu (3rd minute) before medio Cavin Lobo (32nd) equalised for the visitors. However goals from midfielders Ahmad Arash Hatife (37th) and N.P. Pradeep (64rd) put the hosts in the driver’s seat.
Midfielder Ryuiji Sueoka (87th) pulled one back for East Bengal late in the second half but it proved to be only a consolation goal.
The hosts played the last ten minutes of the game with ten men after Arash received his marching orders for a second bookable offense.
With this win, Mumbai FC move up to ninth place in the table with 11 points ahead of East Bengal (10th, 9pts) on head-to-head.
Coach Khalid Jamil handed starts to new signings Khelemba Meitei, Mohammed Rafi, Pradeep and Yakubu.
The hosts had the perfect start to the match taking the lead in the opening exchanges. It took Yakubu, making his return, less than three minutes to get his name on the score-sheet. The striker controlled a long ball on the edge of the opponents’ box on the right and hit a low shot past East Bengal custodian Abhijit Mondal at the far post.
A minute past the quarter hour mark, Yakubu was once again in the thick of action. The Ghanian’s measured delivery into the box from the right found his strike partner Mohammed Rafi on the edge of the box. The former India-international attempt of a flying scissor-kick went inches wide.
Midway through the half, the visitors created their first close chance. Medio Cavin Lobo’s deflected shot from the edge of the box went just over the horizontal.
Minutes later, Yakubu once again went close. This time his long range attempt from 30-yards on the left was blocked by the keeper. Medio N.P. Pradeep tried to capitalise on the rebound but his weak attempt was too saved by the keeper.
Two minutes past the half-hour mark, the visitors pulled one back against the run of play. Lobo went a solo down the right flank before beating Mumbai FC custodian with a low shot at the far post from the edge of the box.
Five minutes later, the hosts once again took the lead. Yakubu, turning provider, found Arash in the centre from the left. The Afghan medio created space and scored with a low shot from 22-yards out past an outstretched Mondal.
Mumbai FC took their 2-1- advantage into the breather.
A minute after restart, Yakubu once again went close. However, his header from inside the box was once again saved by the keeper.
After a lengthy spell of midfield battle between the two sides, Mumbai FC increased their lead four minutes past the hour mark. Medio Pradeep timed his run to perfection inside the box as he headed home Nichols Rodrigues’ pin point cross from the left.
Mumbai FC kept on the pushing ahead keeping East Bengal at bay. However, the hosts went down to ten men into the final quarter of the match as Arash received his second yellow for a foul on Sueoka.
The visitors made their one-man advantage count as Sueoka scored on defender Harmanjot Khabra’s flat cross in from the left with a header from close range in the final exchanges to set up a nervy finish.
Mumbai FC however held on for their first home win of the season.
Man of the Match: Anwar Ali (Mumbai FC)