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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Mumbai City FC go down to Al Hilal in AFC Champions League

Date:

Mumbai City FC put up a gutsy performance but went down 0-2 to Al Hilal SFC in their AFC Champions League group stage match at the DY Patil Stadium here on Monday evening.

Goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa pulled off a string of stunning saves to keep the Islanders in the contest till the hour mark but a red card to defender Mehtab Singh for two bookable offences meant Des Buckingham’s side’s resistance was broken in the 61st minute as Michael finished off a smooth Al Hilal move before Aleksandar Mitrovic added a second five minutes from time.

The visiting Saudi Arabian side who are the most successful team in the AFC Champions League history with four titles to their name were missing big guns like Neymar, midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and goalkeeper Yassine Bounou but still had plenty of quality in their ranks for the Islanders who pushed them all the way.

Mumbai City FC who were cheered on by a crowd measuring just over 30,000 came racing out of the blocks and had a chance to take the lead in the very first minute of the match when Lalianzualla Chhangte and Greg Stewart combined well on the left to send the latter through on goal but Stewart’s shot at the near post was kept out by the goalkeeper.

The Islanders who were boosted by the early chance once again got behind the Al Hilal defence when Jorge Pereyra Diaz beat Kalidou Koulibaly to a bouncing ball to go clear on goal but the former Napoli defender recovered to make a vital challenge.

Al Hilal slowly warmed up to the task and carved the home side open with a slick move a few minutes later but goalkeeper Lachenpa was alert to the danger and prevented a certain goal with his outstretched left leg to make a fine save.

Lachenpa was called into action again in the 23rd minute when Ruben Neves threatened to find the net with a sweetly struck volley but the Mumbai City FC custodian made a save at full stretch to deny the former Wolves midfielder.

Al Hilal continued to pile on the pressure but Mumbai City FC were able to pose a threat on the counter-attack. Stewart managed to sneak in behind the Al Hilal defence before the half-time whistle but could not pick a Mumbai City FC shirt before with his cutback.

It was goalless at the break largely thanks to Lachenpa’s excellent goalkeeping skills who stood firm between the sticks.

Mumbai City FC started the second half well, keeping Al Hilal at an arm’s length but were dealt a blow when Mehtab Singh received his second yellow card and subsequently his marching orders as the Islanders were reduced to ten men.

Al Hilal eventually made their numerical advantage count when Michael fired past Lachenpa to put his team in front in the 61st minute.

It was all Al Hilal after that point as they exerted complete control on the match against ten men of Mumbai City FC.

Lachenpa though continued to thwart the visitors as he produced save after save, the most notable being the one to deny Koulibaly from close range after Buckingham’s side had failed to clear a corner.

Mitrovic then sealed the three points for the visitors with a header at the far post in the 85th minute.

The win took Al Hilal to the top of Group D as Mumbai City FC remained bottom after their fourth defeat.

Mumbai City FC travel to Iran to face Nassaji Mazandaran in their next match in the AFC Champions League before finishing off their campaign against Navabhor FC at home.

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