In a high-intensity game, North East United defeated league leaders Mumbai City FC in a 2-1 thriller at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim. NorthEast United’s third win in succession ended Mumbai City’s 12-game unbeaten streak in the ISL. Back to back strikes from Deshorn Brown within 10 minutes of the first half, killed the game off until Adam Le Fondre grabbed a goal back for the Islanders in the second half.
For Mumbai, this defeat means they have failed to better FC Goa’s record of 12 games unbeaten in the ISL.
Both teams deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mandar Rao Dessai and Jackichand Singh returning to the lineup for their respective sides.
The teams started the game off in high intensity as both teams deployed a wider attacking play. North East, early on started to play aggressively, building pressure on the Mumbai defence, which often shifted to a back three.
This left enough space for Jamaican Deshorn Brown to score the first goal in the 6th minute. Mumbai goalkeeper Amrinder’s poor clearance was turned into a first-time cross by Dorjee on to an unmarked Brown, who volleyed it into the back of the net cleanly.
Three minutes on, Brown scored once again, as Gallego’s corner from the left took a few touches before finding Brown at the far post. Mumbai’s high backline in the first quarter of the hour created all sort of problems for them, as North East continued to make in-roads towards their goal.
North East used the wings effectively to create crosses into the box as MCFC’s back lined continued to be stretched even further to deal with the mounting pressure.
Mumbai City maintained significant possession throughout the first half, trying to build up play through either wing, with Jackichand Singh often making quick dribbles along the right-wing. To counter this threat NE Utd effectively used a defensive pivot in the middle, which denied Mumbai creating any in roads through the centre. The first major chance for MCFC came in 17 minutes when Bipin curled a cross towards the far post but Jackichand failed to get the desired connection.
Ogbeche and Jahouh continued to exert more control over the game for MCFC as they created many chances during the first half. Subhashish Roy Chowdhury superbly saved Jahouh’s curling strike in the 41st minute. Mumbai City upped the ante after the first 30 minutes but failed to break the defensive dominance which NE Utd maintained until the end of the half.
The second half, kicked off in favour of NE Utd with youngster Lalengmawia’s screamer being tipped over by the MCFC goalie Amarinder. As the half-progressed MCFC had the greater possession with NE Utd being forced more on the defensive. They often switched to a back 5 to deal with the threats posed by Boumous across both wings.
The first breakthrough for MCFC came in the 85th minute when Ogbeche’s sweet tip was directed towards the goal by substitute Le Fronde. Mumbai City then threw men forward and nearly found an equaliser in the last minutes of the game. Roy, who had made a stunning reflex save in the first half, brilliantly saved Mehtab’s strong header.
Deshorn Brown was the winner on the night with the 30-year-old’s performance being the main factor behind his side sitting fourth in the table. Meanwhile, for the league leaders, they remain at top, six-points ahead of second-placed ATK Mohun Bagan.
Mumbai City will now face Kerala Blasters, on the 3rd of February. North East United, on the other hand, have a tough fixture against Goa on the 4th of February.