With a win today, Chennaiyin FC could’ve pulled away from Atletico De Kolkata at the top of the table and also stretched their unbeaten streak to an unprecedented 7 games. For Mumbai City FC, it was all about getting back into the top 4 qualifying positions and stretching their own unbeaten streak to 6 games.
Mumbai City FC & Chennaiyin FC – Two Troubled Teams
Barring their improved overall performance as a team, this was probably the weakest Chennaiyin have been the entire season. They lack their two major attackers in the form of Elano Blumer and John Stiven Mendoza Valencia. Fortunately, they could bring back Mikael Silvestre as without him, they would’ve been two centre backs short.
Mumbai City FC made two changes to their starting line-up. Of these the more notable one was that they chose to take out Nicolas Anelka who wasn’t even on their bench. The silver lining for Mumbai City FC was that Freddie Ljungberg was on their bench and could have come on later to play a crucial part. The key players for both teams would be Manuel Friedrich, Jan Stohanzl, and Andre Moritz for Mumbai City FC and Silvestre, Bruno Augusto Pelissari de Lima, and Balwant Singh.
Before the match, I still felt that Chennaiyin FC were in a better shape despite being without their two star performers. I was looking forward to see if Pelissari’s performance in the last game was a one-off or if he’s a truly good player. I was to be proven right too as Chennaiyin would go on to win the match handsomely and it was Pelissari who ended up making the most difference. His overall performance was eye catching too.
A Scrappy and Toothless First Half
Within the first 3 minutes, Andre Moritz had a go at the referee for not giving him a couple of early freekicks. He was pissed enough to make it a personal vendetta and started drawing freekicks just to make a point.
He managed to make it work when he got the ref to give Djemba-Djemba a yellow card for what was a fairly innocuous challenge.
Off the pitch, Peter Reid looked calm as he pulled his best impression of Lawrence of Arabia with his headgear in the Brit colours. Still, it was Mumbai City FC who started the game better than Chennaiyin. As the game progressed it became scrappier and scrappier.
This one looked to be an old fashioned midfield battle between two teams looking to not lose rather than win. Essentially, both teams were waiting for a mistake and Chennaiyin obliged at around 25 minutes.
They gave the ball away too close to their 18 yard box. The resultant shot was saved well by Gennaro Bracigliano as he got down low to his right.
Moritz had to go off at the 30th minute and who came on for him? Freddie Ljungberg! We finally got to see Mumbai City FC’s ISL marquee player, Ljungberg. His arrival seems to have made a difference to the quality of Mumbai City FC’s play. They started keeping possession better and even stringing some passes together.
Equally Scrappy Second Half but At Least We Got Goals
The second half was slightly better between the two teams as both of them seemed to have plucked out unforced errors from their game. Both the teams managed to bring together some good attacks but the end product was still lacking.
Chennaiyin even had a penalty claim for a handball but the player was too close for it to be called. After that penalty call was turned down, the game heated up a little. Both sets of players started playing a little vindictively and aggressively. The tackles were flying and were borderline vengeful.
After multiple breaks in play and a number of mistakes, Chennaiyin had the big breakthrough. It was Pelissari who scored for the southern outfit with a right footed shot full of composure. The ball went into the top right corner. The ball came to Pelissari after two critical mistakes by Mumbai City FC’s defenders. Mumbai City FC 0 – 1 Chennaiyin FC.
Chennaiyin went on to get a second goal and put the game beyond Mumbai City FC. A freekick dropped onto the penalty spot. The Mumbai keeper, Subrata Paul, flapped at it as he’d been doing the whole game long.
The ball fell to Dhanachandra Singh who made no mistake with it. The ball nestled in the bottom right corner of the Mumbai goal. It was a strange goal because after the flap from Paul everyone just stopped. Dhana hadn’t though. Mumbai City FC 0 – 2 Chennaiyin FC. Game over.
The league leaders then added insult to injury. They scored their 3rd goal from a freekick which was taken by Cristian Hindalgo Gonzalez. The freekick was on the right side but the ball was put in the far top corner. A freekick that Elano would’ve been proud of. Mumbai City FC 0 – 3 Chennaiyin FC.
The Aftermath for the Indian Super League
Despite the goals, the game was a poor example of football. It was rough and looked like what people probably played during the Dark Ages. The commentators described the game the best. They called it “untidy”. It was untidy enough to require a cleaning with Surf Excel followed by a complete makeover.
Still, Chennaiyin get the win that they were craving for. It put them 3 points clear of Atletico De Kolkata. With just 4 games to go for each team, I believe it may be difficult for any other team to push Chennaiyin off their pedestal.
Mumbai City FC have now lost their unbeaten and clean sheet streak. A worse loss would be their 5th position. They’ve now gone from 5th to 6th position because their GD is the same as FC Pune City but they’ve scored lesser goals.
All they have left to do now is to get up off the floor, brush their shorts off, and possibly give a response in the next game. They can still qualify for the knockout stages. By the way, Mumbai City FC’s loss means that FC Goa now have their fate in their own hands.