Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Mumbai trounce Shillong Lajong 4-1


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Margao/Kolkata/Pune: In another disappointing outing for Shillong Lajong FC, Mumbai FC beat the Northeast giants 4-1 in their I-League encounter in Pune on Saturday.

Meanwhile, East Bengal for the first time moved top the table with a 3-0 win over Churchill Brothers and their arch-rivals in Kolkata, Mohun Bagan, returned to victory with an identical margin against Salgaocar SC in the sixth round of play.

As a result of this loss, Lajong have slipped to eighth in the table, just one point ahead of Mumbai.

Dempo have dropped to second after losing to ONGC on Friday.

If it was Haroon Fakruddin Amiri’s brace that gave Mumbai FC their first win of the season last week, Saturday belonged to Nicholas Rodrigues, who opened the scoring and then set up Justin Stephen for the third goal as the ‘home’ team climbed to ninth position with six points from six matches.

Lajong’s loss has dented their hopes of solidifying their position in the middle of the table.

With a continuous breeze bringing the temperature down, Mumbai FC made most of the conditions as Subhash Chakraborty and Gabriel Fernandes started the offensive from the start.

Having got the chance to start, Gabriel was in his element with his livewire runs up and down the pitch.

But it was Rodrigues who drew first blood when he moved with the ball from left and shot into the post where Shillong Lajong goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte rushed ahead to prevent the onrushing Mumbai player Justin Stephen.

The ball seemingly took a deflection from Stephen, but the match commissioner deservedly awarded the goal to Rodrigues.

Two minutes later Subhash Chakraborty made the move from the middle and set up Yusif Yakubu in the box. As the Ghanaian striker was heavily marked he released the ball for fleet footed Gabriel Fernandes, who made no mistake in tapping in for 2-0 lead.

Shillong Lajong seemed too defensive for the first 25 minutes when Faizal Rehman fouled to hand a free-kick for the visitors 10 yards outside the box. But Lalramluaha Hmar’s shot flew over the post causing no harm to the Mumbai post.

Yakubu had a golden chance, but he shot into Ralte’s hands from close range in the 34th minute. Hmar was aggressive upfront, but he got little support from his fellow strikers.

Mumbai had yet another chance to increase their lead when Evans Quao made a move from the right and set up Ashutosh Mehta, but he shot into the approaching goalkeeper.

On changing ends, the first 30 minutes saw both teams testing each other.

Mumbai seemed happy with the lead but just before they got complacent, Shillong Lajong struck one to reduce the gap.

Subash Singh had made the move and Sushil Kumar Singh executed the shot to send the ball into the net as the motley Lajong fans began rooting for Shillong in the 75th minute.

But coach Khalid Jamil was up on his feet and Nicholas Rodrigues was up to the task.

His corner shot was textbook style that just kissed Justin Stephen’s head and went in from the acute angle. ND Opara, who went in for Yakubu joined the goal binge putting Mumbai FC 4-1 ahead.

Sunday will see Pailan Arrows take on Prayag United, while Sporting Clube de Goa host the other team from the Northeast, United Sikkim, in a clash between the 12th and 13th-placed teams.

The match between Pune FC and Air India has been postponed due to the death of Bal Thackeray. (UNI)


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