Mumbai’s play-off hopes were dashed before their very eyes yesterday as Delhi crushed them, 5-1, made it eleven points out of a possible fifteen and extended their unbeaten run to five. Miguel Portugal will be wondering what might have been as some of the stuff that his Delhi side have been pulling out the bag recently has been nothing short of mesmerising and considering they have held their own against FC Goa and Chennaiyin during their five-game unbeaten run, it certainly bodes well for next season.
Five Unbeaten For Delhi
On the other hand, Mumbai will be devastated that their chance of success has been taken away from them for another year; they needed to beat Delhi and beat Chennaiyin on the weekend to stand any chance of making the end of season finale. Their game against Chennaiyin will now become a dead rubber as such because Chennaiyin have now qualified for the play-offs, the only thing they will be playing for will be home advantage in the second leg of the semi-final, not that home advantage really matters for much.
Going to mix it up a bit for this report, with it nearing the end of the season and all. I’ll talk you through the goals and then we’ll look at some talking points, how’s that for you? Nandhakumar Sekar gave Delhi the lead early on after a well-worked goal ended with him finishing passed Amrinder first-time. It was put on a plate for him by Seityasen, who has really flourished with his recent run in the team and he will be making a few people take note before the draft next season.
Magic From Matias
That was the score at half-time, 1-0. Guimaraes responded to being 1-0 down by taking off a centre-half and replacing him with Leo Costa, after all, it was do or die. Minutes later, the away side got what they were looking for as Xabi Irureta spilt Balwant’s low drive and Everton Santos was in the right place at the right time to put them back on level terms.
The goal which put Delhi back in the ascendancy was right up there with the best goals this season. Lumu put the ball into the box from the left, it bounced out via a couple of people to the awaiting Matias Mirabaje who took a touch and then rifled it into the top right-hand corner. It was a rocket, a bullet, a steam train and a whole host of other adjectives, it will definitely be up there when it comes to the goal of the season.
Three goals followed after Matias’ screamer and they were all relatively straightforward; Arana converted from the spot after he was brought down, Uche scored after being teed up by Chhangte and then Chhangte got on the scoresheet himself in stoppage time when he glided beyond the keeper and scored with ease. Nine goals in two games and a very strong end to the season for Delhi.
Those were the goals, now let’s look at some of the more unique talking points. How many shall we go for? Let’s say three.
#1 Stupid Red Cards
Picture this. You’ve picked up a daft yellow card for a lazy tackle with just over half an hour left. Your team needs to win to make the end of season play-offs. You then go 2-1 win down. You get somewhat of a lifeline after your opponents are reduced to ten men. Five or so minutes pass and you end up in a situation where the attacking player has gone past you, but he seems to be going nowhere.
There are ten minutes left in the game and your side needs two goals. What do you do? A) Usher him out of play, so at worst, you concede a corner OR B) Bring him down from behind, concede a penalty and pick up a second yellow card. Mumbai’s Sahil Tavora went for option B. Mumbai went down to 3-1 and their dream was effectively done. Delhi’s Pratik Chowdhary got sent off for two idiotic yellows as well, but his side won 5-1, so he gets given a pass, this time.
#2 Irreplaceable Irureta
Well, you’d think he would be. With the ex-Zaragoza keeper between the sticks, Delhi have only lost once. In Xabi’s defence, he was taken off when it was 1-1 in the game they lost, so I’m not too sure you can blame him for that. Speaking of taking him off, that’s precisely what Miguel Portugal has done, twice in the last three games. It’s a fine balancing act being a manager in the ISL at times and due to the limits on how many foreigners you’re allowed on the pitch at any given time (five), Miguel tends to sacrifice Irureta for a foreigner with a bit nous further up the pitch.
It’s a sound idea, but it’s using two subs for the price of one, so it has its risks. Nevertheless, the save that Irureta made from Balwant’s stinging effort was every bit as good as Matias’ goal, so we may well have seen the goal of the season and the save of the season in the same game.
#3 Automatic Qualification Not Looking Likely For Mumbai
I said earlier that Mumbai’s game against Chennaiyin was now a dead rubber. Well, that isn’t completely true. This year sees the inaugural Indian Super Cup where teams from the ISL and the I-League compete in a knockout competition to see who is the best Indian team, essentially. The top six teams from each league qualify automatically for the last sixteen of the cup, whereas the bottom four in the respective leagues have to battle it out against each other to get the final four places.
Mumbai currently sit seventh and can finish with a maximum of 26 points which will be enough for them to leapfrog Kerala IF Kerala lose to Bengaluru. If the Blasters draw, Kerala will lose out by virtue of a worse H2H record; they can also overhaul FC Goa, but it’s thought they’ll get at least three points from their last two games, thus, putting them out of reach.
That’s all for now. I’ll be back with you tomorrow as we take a look back on FC Goa’s crucial game against ATK.
Until the next time.