Mumbai City FC overcame a tough challenge from SC East Bengal to sneak in a 1-0 win in the ongoing seventh season of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, here on Friday.
With this win, the Islanders stretch their incredible unbeaten run to 11 games now. It was a match of contrasting halves. Mumbai spurned a number of chances in the first 45 minutes but managed to take the lead through Mourtada Fall (27').
A rejuvenated SCEB pulled out all stops in their search for an equaliser in the second half but frustratingly could not manage one. Mumbai had a chance as early as the third minute when Adam Le Fondre found himself in a position to shoot after receiving the ball from Cy Goddard but his attempt was wide of the post.
They should have taken the lead in the 14th minute when Goddard again turned supplier to Hugo Boumous courtesy of some sloppy keeping by Debjit Majumder. But the Frenchman blazed his shot over the bar.
SCEB were beginning to fashion chances of their own -- Jacques Maghoma had an attempt go just wide -- but their enthusiasm was dampened when Mumbai finally broke through in the 27th minute.
Goddard, again, put in a good delivery into the box which was well defended by SCEB. However, Boumous once again put the ball into the box and this time, he was able to find an unmarked Fall, who made no mistake.
Mumbai found another chance to score as the first half drew to a close. A cross found Le Fondre unmarked inside the box. The Englishman had a free header but was unable to get it on target.
Fall had the chance to get his second soon after the restart but failed to make the most of it. A chip from Ahmed Jahouh saw him with a clear shot on goal, but his attempt was straight into Majumder's hands.
SCEB coach Robbie Fowler threw in Bright Enobakhare around the hour-mark and his presence immediately invigorated their attack. SCEB went close to getting the equaliser in the 64th minute when Del Fox headed inches wide from a corner.
Fowler's team piled on the pressure in the final quarter of the game and there were times when Mumbai struggled to get the ball out of their own half. SCEB froze possession creating chances every minute but Mumbai keeper Amrinder Singh stood firm, ably assisted by a backline.
Perhaps, the best chance for the Kolkata side came with just minutes left on the clock when substitute Aaron Joshua Holloway floated in a beautiful cross to find Harmanpreet Singh at the far post. The forward was unmarked and should have netted but his header went narrowly over. SCEB pushed till the final minute, but the equaliser was never to come.
( With inputs from ANI )
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