Mumbai City came from a goal down to beat Gokulam Kerala 2-1 in their Group C match of the Kalinga Super Cup in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. An off-colour and youngster-filled Mumbai City were made to struggle for the points and rely on a penalty to seal it in injury time. Mumbai City settled into their groove early into the game and were almost presented with a goal in the fourth minute of the game. Abdenasser El Khayati shrugged off his marker on the left wing, before crossing the ball into the six-yard area, where Avilash Paul punched it into the path of Nathan Rodrigues. The youngster volleyed high.
The game entered a pattern, where Mumbai City, predictably, controlled the proceedings, and constantly probed Gokulam’s defensive structure. Their hard pressing and eagerness to win the second ball caused huge problems for Gokulam who struggled at times to even get out of their half.
In the 12th minute, this high press style saw Jayesh Rane steal the ball just outside the Gokulam box and lay it to Gurkirat Singh. The striker shot wide.
Mumbai City’s ability to keep the pressure also came with its own caveats – that of an overconfidence seeping in. Gokulam made them pay for it in the 23rd minute, off a simple two pass counter attack.
Debutant Nikola Stojanovic played a long ball from his own half into the Mumbai box, where Aminou Bouba rose highest to head it towards goal.
An error of judgement by Phurba Lachenpa saw the ball bounce off the bar and straight into the path of Alex Sanchez, who accepted what will undoubtedly be his simplest chance this season. Gokulam had a shock lead.
Despite Mumbai’s overwhelming pressure late in the half – which forced Paul into a few smart saves – Gokulam’s goal remained unbreached at the break.
Mumbai kept probing for an equaliser throughout the second half, but despite their overwhelming possession created little in terms of clear chances.
The substitute Seilenthang Lotjem came close with a brilliant shot from distance in the 70th minute, but it drifted just wide.
Gokulam played their part as counterattacks, to perfection. From their first corner of the game, in the 72nd minute Bouba almost doubled their lead, rising highest yet again and seeing his header bounce off the crossbar, yet again.
That miss ended up hurting them barely four minutes later. Played through brilliantly by El Khayati, the substitute Ayush Chhikara finished into the far corner from a sharp angle to draw Mumbai City level. For Gokulam, further heartbreak was to follow.
Deep into the injury time a needless foul by Basith Ahmed Bhat on the edge of the box saw Gokulam concede a penalty. El Khayati made no mistake from the spot, sending Paul the wrong way to help Mumbai take all three points.
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