Mumbai City FC continued its impressive run in the Indian Super League with a commanding 2-0 victory over Chennaiyin FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday.
Raynier Fernandes opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a brilliant strike from outside the box before Modou Sougou doubled the lead by heading home a deflected a Rafel Bastos cross early in the second half.
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The win helped Mumbai jump to second in the points table, just three points behind leaders Bengaluru FC. They are on 20 points from 10 games and after winning just one from their first four, The Islanders are unbeaten in their last six fixtures, five of which they have won.
On the other side, Chennaiyin continued their struggle and after eight defeats in 11 matches, the defending champions are at the eighth position with five points.
Against Mumbai, away from home, John Gregory’s wards started well moving the ball comfortably even as the home side found it difficult to adjust to their opponents’ fast-paced play.
But against the run, it was home side, who came up with the first opportunity of the game. Having intercepted an Anirudh Thapa pass inside his own half, Sougou sent Bastos through on goal but the midfielder’s low shot was too weak to trouble Sanjiban Ghosh.
Minutes later, Chenaiyin came up with a similar chance when Salom was sent through but the striker’s effort went off-target.
Raynier then broke the deadlock after Bastos cut inside from the left and found him just outside the penalty box. The midfielder rattled the net with a powerful grounder even before Chennaiyin centre-back Eli Sabia could react.
That was in the 27th minute and three minutes later Raphael Augusto nearly assisted a Chennaiyin equaliser but his brilliant cross into the box was parried away by Amrinder Singh after Salom had headed the cross towards goal.
Mumbai could have added a second in the dying minutes of the first half had Sougou been vigilant enough in-front of goal. Augusto’s clearance from a quick Mumbai counter sent the ball straight into Sougou’s path. But with the entire goal in-front of him, the Senegalese footballer only managed to hit the crossbar, wasting perhaps the first-half beat and easiest opportunity.
But he will make up for his earlier miss, 10 minutes after play restarted. Bastos picked Sougou with a simple cross, which deflecting on its way towards him was headed into the net as Mumbai went 2-0 up.
Down by two goals, Gregory immediately made two attacking substitutions bringing on Andrea Orlandi and Francis Fernandes that increased the tempo of Chennaiyin’s attacks. But Mumbai held on to register their second consecutive victory and fifth in six matches.
Substitute Orlandi blasted the upright with a powerful strike in the 70th minute and also forced Amrinder into making two brilliant saves minutes after coming on but that was not enough to prevent Chennaiyin from slumping to its eighth defeat in 11 matches this season.