Mumbai City FC struck thrice in the second half to beat Chennaiyin FC by 3-0 at the Mumbai Football Arena (MFA) to enter the season break and the New Year on a positive note in the Indian Super League (ISL) match on Thursday night.
Lallianzuala Chhangte rediscovered his goal-scoring touch against his former club, in a match in which he missed a kick from the spot before hammering in a goal in the 52nd minute.
The Islanders were on the frontfoot in a gruelling affair from the beginning. Their frontline, though missing Greg Stewart, was creating chances aplenty, but was unable to find a breakthrough past this defensively well-arranged Chennaiyin FC unit.
Vikram Partap Singh was a lively presence in the final third, cutting in the centre from the left flank and teasing the visitors with his fierce shots. One of his efforts just curled past Debjit Majumder in the fourth minute, but the Marina Machans got their act together thereafter. They bolstered the backline, preventing Argentine forward Jorge Pereyra Diaz from finding his seventh goal of the season a few yards away from Majumder.
Chhangte, with just one goal to his name in 10 ISL matches before this one, had a golden opportunity to get his team the lead from 12 yards away in the 36th minute, after a foul by Bikash Yumnum. His shot hit the crossbar though, infusing belief within the visitors that they could get the first foot ahead in this game.
That was not to be, and Chhangte started the Mumbai City FC comeback in the second half, drilling the ball into the back of the net courtesy of a fine finish from the right side of the box.
The Islanders put up a complete show thereafter, constantly hovering around the Chennaiyin FC box with Diaz and Jayesh Rane falling short of bagging the second goal of the night by mere inches.
Diaz virtually missed shooting into an open net in the 58th minute, but Vikram’s penalty in the 80th minute helped the Islanders get a definite lead in the proceedings. Gurkirat Singh earned the spot-kick due to a foul by Chennaiyin FC captain Ryan Edwards, and the forward’s good friend stepped up to convert the opportunity before breaking into a joyous celebration with the supporters.
Gurkirat got his due from the game 10 minutes later, earning the reward of donning the role of an ideal No. 9. At the centre of the box, Lalengmawia Ralte set up a slick pass that Gill slotted in with little hesitation to bag his first-ever goal in his ISL career.
Both teams have rounded off their first half of the ISL 2023-24 campaign with this game.
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