MUMBAI: Mumbai FC climbed up from the bottom of the table with a stunning 3-0 victory over Salgaocar FC in a Round 6 match of the Hero I-League at the Cooperage here on Friday.
Two first half goals by Sampath Kutty Mani and Josimar da Silva followed by a late second half striker by Jayesh Rane were enough for the hosts to record an upset win over the Goans. Mumbai have leapfrogged to eighth place now, at least until the weekend.
On the eve of the match, Mumbai coach Khalid Jamil had spoken about the difficulty to breach the Salgaocar defence, especially after the return of their marquee player Francis Kasonde. Before Friday’s match, Salgaocar had conceded just three goals. The task was going to be tougher for Mumbai given their misfiring strikers had scored just thrice ahead of the tie.
But the home side put up an inspiring performance under lights in front of pack Cooperage stadium. They played with a positive intent and a lot of purpose. Kutty Mani opened the scoring with a long-range effort in the sixth minute. Taisuke Matsugae wrestled with the Salgaocar defenders and played it back towards Kitty Mani, who was waiting at the top of the box. He unleashed a powerful right-footer which gave Salgaocar custodian Subrata Pal no chance to save.
Mumbai doubled their lead in the 26th minute with a neatly worked out goal. Ashutosh Mehta found Jayesh Rane free on the right flank. Rane embarked on a run before crossing it inside the box. Josimar towered over the defenders and headed it past Pal to give Mumbai a two-goal cushion.
Stunned by Mumbai’s aggressive approach, Salgaocar tried to steady the ship but they looked uncomfortable on the artificial surface at Cooperage. They were unable to judge the bounce and the players slipped frequently.
Mumbai held on to their lead after 45 minutes but the visitors stepped up their game in the second half. They controlled most of the match and conjured up decent moves that put Mumbai defence under pressure.
But the back line, led by Chika Wali, stood like a rock, not giving much space to their opponents inside the box. Goalkeeper Nidhin Lal too was impressive, pulling off some incredible saves including a brilliant diving effort to keep out Rocus Lamare’s powerful shot.
With time running out and Salgaocar trying to find a way back into the match, they committed too many men forward. Mumbai hit them on counter in the final minute, with Josimar playing a long ball on the flanks that found Rane. With all defenders committed forward, Rane found himself in a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Pal and coolly slotted it past him to put the result beyond any doubt.
Hero of the Match – Sampath Kuttymani (MUM)