MUMBAI: Ten-man Mumbai FC produced a superb second half display to hold Sporting Clube de Goa to a 2-2 draw in the Hero I-League game at Cooperage tonight. Sporting went ahead with a ninth-minute goal from Mahmoud Al Amna before Ryuki Kozawa cancelled the Syrian’s strike mid-way through the first half. In the second half, Jayesh Rane, who came as the substitute, immediately put the hosts ahead before Victorino Fernandes slammed home the equaliser for Sporting Clube de Goa.
Khalid Jamil rung in the changes as veteran goalie Sandeep Nandy made his Mumbai FC debut. Darren Caldeira, Rohit Mirza and Clyde Fernandes also started for the yellow outfit. Mateus Costa too opted for an attacking line-up which was led by the lanky Nigerian striker Odafa Okolie.
The visitors got off to a great start when a crisp move in the 9th minute caught the Mumbai FC back four flat-footed. Odafa slid a clever through pass that was met by Al Amna inside the box, who made no mistake in slotting his shot past the hapless Sandeep Nandy as the Flaming Oranje drew first blood.
However, Sporting Clube de Goa didn’t make the most of the early momentum as a sloppy piece of defending gifted the home side a way back into the contest nine minutes later. Sporting Clube de Goa let a hopeful free kick from N.P. Pradeep bounce inside their box, thus allowing the industrious Ryuki Kozawa to sneak behind the Sporting central defenders and lob the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net to bring Mumbai FC level.
Mumbai FC were forced into a change when goalkeeper Sandeep Nandy had to be replaced by Pawan Kumar after the former suffered an injury after the half-hour mark. Mumbai FC who were enjoying more of the possession had to wait until the 42nd minute to get their second attempt on goal when Eric Brown’s long-range effort needed intervention from the custodian Arindam Bhattacharya.
However, Mumbai FC’s N.P. Pradeep received his marching order following his second booking of the night and Mumbai FC were down to ten. Pradeep had earlier fouled Odafa on the edge of the penalty area to earn his first booking.
Mumbai FC came out all guns blazing with substitute Jayesh Rane providing the hosts with much-needed energy. Eight minutes into the second half, Eric Brown’s lofted pass found Jayesh completely free on the left-hand side and the winger held his nerve well to calmly slot the ball between the legs of the Sporting goalkeeper and give Mumbai FC a lead at the start of the second half.
Mateus Costa, whose side were jolted back to earth early in the second half, sent on Victorino Fernandes in place of Al Amna and the substitute made an instant impact as he pulled Sporting Clube de Goa level with one tap in on the hour mark.
Despite restoring parity, the visitors continued to look fragile and almost conceded again when an inward run from Jayesh Rane to meet Eric Brown’s pass created confusion in the Sporting defense that led to Loveday clearing off the line just two minutes after the equaliser by Victorino.
Ten minutes later, Victorino Fernades missed a great chance to put Sporting Clube de Goa in front when he dragged his shot wide of the target. In the 80th minute, Ryuki Kozawa was inches away from handing Mumbai FC the advantage when his brilliant half-volley just evaded the target. However, at the other end, substitute Seriton Fernandes fired his shot wide from inside the box. Mumbai FC’s injuries woes compounded when Clyde Fernandes had to be stretched off in the dying minutes of the game and that forced Khalid Jamil to hand a debut to Syed Rahim Nabi just two minutes to the end of the regulation time.
Mumbai FC saw off the five additional minutes cautiously to earn a credible point to continue their unbeaten run at home. Sporting Clube de Goa would be disappointed not to have taken full points from the encounter despite having a numerical advantage for an entire half.
Sporting Clube de Goa leapfrog Shillong Lajong to the 4th position with 12 points while Mumbai FC remain 6th from the top with 10 points.
– I-League Media