Lobera’s Mumbai City reclaims top spot
Mumbai City FC (MCFC) reclaimed the top spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) following a 2-0 win over Kerala Blasters FC (KBFC) at the GMC Stadium here on Saturday.
First-half goals from Adam le Fondre (3’ P) and Hugo Boumous (11’) ensured full points for MCFC, which has 19 points from eight fixtures, two more than second-placed ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB). Both Mumbai City and KBFC made a couple of changes to their line-ups.
Boumous and Mandar Rao Dessai returned to Sergio Lobera’s starting eleven while Costa Nhamoinesu and Lalthathanga Khawlhring were named ahead of Abdul Hakku and Rahul KP for Blasters. Mumbai City punished Kerala for an early error, which gifted it the first goal in the third minute.
Boumous latched on to a Vicente Gomez back pass and the Frenchman was brought down in the box by Nhamoinesu. Penalty taker le Fondre netted his sixth goal of the campaign despite Albino Gomes getting a leg to the ball. MCFC doubled its lead in the 11th minute and this time, Boumous got his name on the scoresheet.
Off a free-kick, Ahmed Jahouh sprayed a long ball from his own half towards Boumous. And, the Frenchman made it look easy as he got past his marker and slotted the ball home. Kerala took time to get into the game and had a couple of tries at the rival goal, forcing Amrinder Singh into action.
Amrinder first denied Gomez with a diving save and later stopped Sahal Abdul Samad’s effort. Sahal should have passed the ball to Facundo Pereyra, who was in a better position to score. Blasters created chances and showed its desire to get back in the game, but the Mumbai City defenders were an equal match to their opponents. MCFC was guilty of squandering a good chance just before the break.
Boumous cut the ball back to le Fondre, but his chip sailed over the bar. Kerala put up an improved performance in the second half. It created chances early and nearly pulled a goal back in the 55th minute but Jordan Murray’s effort was ruled offside.
With less than 20 minutes on the clock, Mumbai City had the chance to further extend its lead when it was awarded yet another penalty after Boumous was fouled in the box. But this time, Albino read it right and his strong right arm denied Boumous.
At the other end, Amrinder came up with a brilliant save when he parried Gomez’s long-range shot, which brushed off the crossbar. The keeper did exceptionally well to help his side maintain its fifth clean sheet of the season.