INDIAN FOOTBALL

East Bengal sour Mumbai City’s Shield party

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Matchday 21 of the ISL 2022-23 season finished on Sunday, with Mumbai City visiting East Bengal. The latter destroyed the former’s League Winner’s Shield celebrations with a 1-0 triumph.

East Bengal (EBFC) defeated previous champion Mumbai City (MCFC) 1-0 in the latter’s last league game of the 2022-23 Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday, just before the hosts were awarded the ISL League Winner’s Shield. In the 52nd minute, Mahesh Singh scored the game’s only goal, and the Torch Bearers held on to their slender advantage to earn their first-ever ISL victory over the Islanders.

Des Buckingham, the head coach of MCFC, made four changes to the starting lineup 90 minutes after hoisting the league shield. Ayush Chhikara was one of these players, and he was inches away from putting the ball into the back of the goal after a Bipin Singh cross from the left.

EAST BENGAL STUNS MUMBAI CITY FC

Cleiton Silva and Jake Jervis were continually looking for gaps in the MCFC defence at the opposite end of the field. It was a golden opportunity for the team to take the lead, but unfortunately, Jervis’ shot flew wide of the mark.

The Islanders came close to finding the back of the net but were unable to do so, as Borges’ deflected effort struck the upright and went out of play. The visitors grabbed control seven minutes into the second half. Suhair deflected Silva’s right-footed low pass before Mahesh let it go onto his left foot and whizzed it past Phurba Lachenpa.

A last-ditch diving grab from Lalchungnunga made Chhangte to defeat in five minutes later. Only six minutes later, another potential arrived at MCFC as Halen Nongtdu’s acrobatic volley was destined for a goal but was saved by Kamaljit. Suhair got two chances in the closing 15 seconds but couldn’t take advantage of them.

Lachenpa

Lachenpa deflected the winger’s initial attempt from the right side of the box back into his path, but his subsequent attempted lob lacked oomph. Five minutes later, the winger had another shot from a difficult angle blocked by the goalkeeper. A pass came in from Chhangte on the left and raced across the face of the goal in the closing five minutes, with no one to apply the decisive touch.

The Torch Bearers’ defence faced a barrage of attacks in the last phases but remained composed to maintain their slim advantage until the conclusion. MCFC failed to score for the first time this season. With the victory, East Bengal FC reclaimed ninth place from Jamshedpur FC (JFC). The victory provides the Torch Bearers with much-needed momentum as they prepare for the Kolkata Derby on Saturday. The Islanders’ league campaign is over, and they will compete in the ISL semi-finals on March 7.

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