Riyadh: Mumbai City FC became the first Indian club to win a match at the AFC Champions League as it came from a goal down to defeat Iraqi giant Air Force Club 2-1 here on Monday.
After conceding in the 59th minute of the Group B fixture, Mumbai City, which had gone down 0-3 to Al Shabab (Saudi Arabia) in its tournament opener, drew level when Diego Mauricio converted a penalty in the 70th. Central defender Rahul Bheke clinched three points for MCFC by scoring the winning goal via a header in the 75th minute.
After a goalless first half in which both sides had chances to break the deadlock, Air Force Club opened the account close to the hour-mark. A swift attacking move deep in Mumbai City’s half saw the Iraqi team take the lead as substitute Hammadi Ahmed nestled the ball into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box.
But, MCFC drew parity after it was awarded a penalty following Ali Kadhim’s foul on Maurício in the area. The Brazilian striker made no mistake in the ensuing spot-kick. About 15 minutes from normal time, Bheke made it 2-1 for Mumbai City by heading the ball home off an Ahmed Jahouh corner-kick.
“The result is a huge one for not only our club but also Indian football. We are the first [Indian] team to come here and pick up a win. It (the win) is something that the players and staff have been striving to achieve,” said manager Des Buckingham, who is leading Mumbai City in its maiden AFC CL campaign.
RESULT: Air Force Club 1 (H Ahmed 59) lost to Mumbai City FC 2 (D Mauricio 70(P), R Bheke 75)