When the game began, both Mumbai City and Chennaiyin FC had a chance to go to the semi-finals. While the Marina Machans just needed a win to advance. Mumbai City required NorthEast United FC to lose to Churchill Brothers regardless of their own outcome.
Despite defeating Chennaiyin FC 1-0 in their last group-stage encounter on Wednesday, April 19 at the Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri. NorthEast United FC eventually defeated the Islanders in head-to-head play to win Group D.
Given their dominance on paper, Chennai should have begun the game on the front foot. And Rahim Ali had the opening chance in the 14th minute. Mohammad Nawaz, the keeper of Mumbai City, was up to the challenge.
Meanwhile, the Islanders were gifted with an opportunity via an indirect free kick . After Samik Mitra handled a back ball from his own defender Vafa Hakhamaneshi. However, the bodies of Chennaiyin FC defenders stopped Rowlin Borges’ shot.
Mumbai’s wingers continued to surge forward after gaining some momentum, eventually breaching Chennai’s defence in the 34th minute.
The 20-year-old attacker dashed into the dugout to congratulate head coach Des Buckingham on his first goal for the club.
The surprising goal took aback Chennaiyin FC and were unable to regain their footing before the half-time siren.
Mumbai City maintains their lead despite a lacklustre second half performance
Chennaiyin FC had every reason to drive forward in the second half, and they did so. Despite entering perilous terrain, Thomas Brdaric’s soldiers were unable to reach the last pass.
Mumbai City, on the other hand, kept the Chennaiyin defence guessing with their counter-attacks. Bipin Singh had a chance to score in the 65th minute, but Samik parried his shot from within the area.
Meanwhile, replacement Kwame Karikari was the Marina Machans’ most active attacking outlet. He kept getting through on a few breaks. But Mehtab Singh, the eventual Man of the Match, kept him in check beautifully.
When the fourth official announced seven minutes of injury time late in the game, there was some controversy. Buckingham was noticeably upset by the decision, and he was given a yellow card for his objections.
However, the Mumbai City players were able to keep their slim advantage till the final whistle.
Despite their victory, NorthEast United FC advanced to the semi-finals with a 6-3 thrashing of Churchill Brothers. However, Buckingham stated after the game that he was pleased with the performance of his all-Indian Mumbai City team.
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