This was a match in which Mumbai City FC absolutely had to win. There was no hope of any other miracles keeping them in the hunt for the last qualifying spot in the Indian Super League. This was it. The final shot. And, didn’t they show up for the big game. For Atletico De Kolkata, it was all about formalising their qualification for the knockout stages. The game didn’t pan out as it was expected to as Mumbai City turned up while Atletico De Kolkata didn’t.
Mumbai City got a shot in the arm before the kick-off whistle. Nicolas Anelka made a comeback into the team, although Freddie Ljungberg and Andre Moritz both were still absent. Mumbai City also welcomed back Jan Stohanzl and Lalrindika Ralte (Didika).
Atletico De Kolkata weren’t without their own shot in the arm as Luis Garcia came back into their team after having been rested in the last match. He didn’t look all that revived from that minor lay off.
Mumbai City FC Peg Back Atletico De Kolkata Immediately
Right from kick-off, Mumbai City tried to impose themselves on the game. There was more energy from their players and better drive.
That took care of their attitude but what about quality? Anelka was trying to add quality to their attack early and it was clearly evident.
An interesting tactical decision from Peter Reid was to put in Abhishek Yadav to compliment Anelka.
You could immediately see that they were trying to connect especially since Anelka was constantly dropping back really deep for the ball.
In fact, I believe he was playing as their midfield playmaker. The bearded man was all over the pitch! And you know what; he was tackling people and tackling well. The Incredible Sulk! Tackling! In defensive midfield!
I am so surprised that I think that my eyes will be so wide that people will be asking me why I’m startled even tomorrow.
A Rare and Wonderful Team Goal from Mumbai
In the 40th minute, Mumbai City got the all-important first goal. It was Didika who got the goal but the credit for the goal should go to two people. The first was Deepak Mandal who dug out a wonderful ball from defensive midfield.
It was one of the classier passes I’ve seen and I’ve been watching football since 1998. The ball was lofted beyond Atletico De Kolkata defensive line and Tiago Ribeiro ran onto it.
He took it all the way to the touchline before looking up. He saw Didika free in the middle of the 18 yard box and rolled the ball to him. Didika finished with style and confidence into the bottom corner first time. It was a well worked goal but the key for me was that first ball out of Mumbai’s midfield. Mumbai City FC 1 – 0 Atletico De Kolkata.
Mumbai Continue To Dominate
Mumbai City continued their domination in the second half. Atletico De Kolkata did look a little more interested in doing the same but didn’t look to be making much headway in this regard.
Mumbai City’s domination almost came to a head within the first 5 minutes when Anelka set up Asif Kottayil.
Asif fired a wicket shot from well outside the box and through a crowd of players. The shot was good enough to rattle the woodwork with the keeper rooted.
A word for Pavel Cmovs who was excellent throughout the game. He must’ve had a big secret pocket installed in his shorts because Fikru took up residence in it. His tackles were well timed and strong, his interceptions intelligent, and his awareness sublime.
Atletico De Kolkata Draw Level
However, one man can only do so much on a football field.
Kolkata scored in the 61st minute through a deceptive freekick. Luis Garcia took it from near the touchline on the right.
He cut the ball back to Borja Fernandez. Borja hit the ball into the box towards the far post where all that Baljit Sahni had to do was tap it in. Atletico De Kolkata drew level. Mumbai City FC 1 – 1 Atletico De Kolkata.
Right after the goal, Kolkata received another boost when they saw Anelka limping off. He was at the centre of everything good that Mumbai did and it showed for the rest of the game as the sting was taken out of Mumbai’s attacking play.
Mumbai City Give It a Good Go
That goal from Atletico De Kolkata meant that Mumbai City needed another goal to keep their hopes alive.
They were cognizant of the fact because they redoubled their efforts to score a goal.
They fashioned some good chances but Kolkata weren’t laggards either because Josemi rattled the post just like Asif had done in the first half.
In this case, the keeper, Subrata Paul, touched it onto the goal post so he deserved some credit for the save.
Mumbai City Revive Hopes Again!
Their hard work paid off too. In the 75th minute, Mumbai City went ahead again through Manuel Friedrich who chose the perfect time to open his account.
He scored from a freekick sent into the box by Stohanzl. It was behind the defenders but Friedrich was running onto it. He ran, he stooped, he scored! Mumbai City FC’s resilience was special.
I didn’t expect it. I doubt anyone in the country did. It was brilliant! Mumbai City FC 2 – 1 Atletico De Kolkata.
They fashioned another chance a little while later. In fact, it was Yadav who created the chance for himself. He actually headed the ball backwards. That’s tough to do. Unfortunately, the keeper saved it. In the 99th minute, Kolkata had the ball in the net but it was disallowed because he was offside. To be honest, he was indeed offside.
A classy pass, a backward header, and 8 minutes of stoppage time. These are things that aren’t common in football. Just those events would’ve been enough to make this match worth watching but Mumbai City’s performance makes it even more special. So, Mumbai City live to fight another day while Atletico De Kolkata wait another day to qualify.