Mumbai City FC pip FC Goa to enter ISL final
- Mumbai City managed to eke out a goalless draw before winning the tie that finished 2-2 on aggregate in penalties.
It was a bit of goalkeeping brilliance from Mumbai City and profligacy in front of goal from FC Goa that eventually decided the fate of the Indian Super League (ISL) semi-final tie between the two sides at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Monday. In a game dominated by FC Goa, league champions Mumbai City managed to eke out a goalless draw before winning the tie that finished 2-2 on aggregate in penalties and book their berth in Saturday’s final against either NorthEast United or ATK Mohun Bagan.
Both sides changed their goalkeepers ahead of a dramatic penalty shootout that ended 6-5 in Mumbai City’s favour with both sides taking nine kicks each. Mumbai looked a shadow of the side that had won the league phase as they failed to pose any significant threat to Goa’s goal. However, a fine performance from Mumbai keeper Amrinder Singh and a number of missed chances from Goa proved to be the latter’s undoing.
FC Goa coach Juan Ferrando made three changes to his side, with Ivan Gonzalez and Alberto Noguera, who were suspended from the first leg, returning to the line-up alongside Redeem Tlang. The trio of Seriton Fernandes, Princeton Rebello (both injured) and, notably, Spanish forward Igor Angulo made way.
Sergio Lobera, coaching against his former employers, too made three changes to his line-up with Hernan Santana, Amey Ranawade and Rowllin Borges starting in place Mandar Rao Desai, Mehtab Singh and Bartholomew Ogbeche.
Unlike the first leg, both teams appeared more guarded in this game. Goa, however, gradually started taking charge and fashioned their first chance of the game in the 23rd minute when Amrinder parried away a shot from Noguera, only for the ball to fall to Tlang.
The former Shillong Lajong winger’s shot, however, was blocked by a diving Ranawade. Five minutes later, Goa’s Jorge Ortiz tested Amrinder again, with his curling free kick forcing the custodian from Punjab into make a diving save.
One of the best chances of the game fell in the 48th minute to Goa when a cross from the left flank was diverted towards the path of Alexander Jesuraj. The 24-year-old winger’s shot from close range, however, was met with a fine fingertip save by Amrinder.
At the hour mark, Amrinder’s intervention kept the scores level again when he kept out a powerful diving header from Goa substitute Ishan Padita.
More chances came Goa’s way but Ferrando’s side failed to take advantage. First Australian centre-back James Donachie headed over from a corner in the 72nd minute. Then, with the chance of winning the match for his side in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Donachie, who was unmarked just a few feet in front of goal, failed to head in from a free kick routine.
Having survived the 90 minutes, Lobera brought on Ogbeche for Mumbai at the beginning of extra time. Goa boss Ferrando responded by introducing the league’s joint-topscorer Angulo in place of Noguera and India international Brandon Fernandes for Savious Gama in the 102nd minute .
Amrinder had more work to do a couple of minutes later when he palmed away a free kick from Edu Bedia. In the 113th minute, Amrinder rushed out of goal and did just enough to prevent Pandita from getting a touch after a defensive mix-up had put the latter through towards goal.
At the other end of the goal, Goa keeper Dheeraj Moirangthem had little to do throughout the game. With penalties looming, Ferrando decided to change his goalkeeper, bringing Naveen Kumar in place of Dheeraj. Surprising, Lobera responded by making a goalkeeping change of his own, with man of the moment Amrinder being replaced by Phurba Lachenpa.
Lobera’s substitution worked immediately, with Lachenpa starting off the penalty shootout by saving Bedia’s spot-kick. Having the chance to give Mumbai an advantage, Ogbeche converted his.
It was Goa substitute Brandon’s chance to level the shootout score in the next penalty but his shot hit the post and went out. However, Goa keeper Naveen responded by diving to his left and saving the next penalty from Hernan.
Angulo was next and he made no mistake from the spot, making it 1-1. Hugo Boumous, who had a quiet game, had the chance to restore Mumbai’s advantage but he shot straight and Naveen stood still to save with his right hand.
Gonzalez stepped up for Goa next and converted and so did Raynier Fernandes for Mumbai, making it 2-2 with four penalties for each side. It set the stage for the final stipulated penalties for both sides.
Donachie, who had missed the chance the win the game for Goa before extra time, had the chance to give his side match-point; but he shot over. Ahmed Jahouh then had the chance to send his side to the final but Naveen vindicated his coach again by saving the kick to send the shootout to sudden death.
Pandita’s turn was next and he made no mistake for Goa. Ranawade followed suit and made it 3-3. Ortiz took and next kick and promptly converted to give Goa the advantage. Mourtada Fall, formerly with FC Goa, held his nerve next and converted to keep the shootout going.
Adil Khan and and Mandar converted their kicks for Goa and Mumbai, respectively. Glan Martins, Goa’s ninth penalty taker in the shootout, then missed the next spot kick, giving Mumbai’s Borges the chance to win the semi-final, which he did by sending Naveen the wrong way to book the league champions’ place in Saturday’s final.