Punjab FC go down to Mumbai City FC in a five goal thriller

TAASIR :– S M HASSAN –02 March

New Delhi, March 2: Punjab FC put in a spirited performance but went down to Mumbai City FC in a five goal thriller in Round 17 of the Indian Super League 2023-24 season which was played here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Iker Guarrotxena scored a brace while Lallianzuala Chhangte scored the first goal for Mumbai while Madih Talal and Wilmar Jordan Gil scored the goals for the home side. Punjab remains three points away from a playoff spot while Mumbai City are in second spot below Odisha FC on goal difference.

Punjab FC Head Coach Staikos Vergetis made just one change to the side that played in the last game, bringing in midfielder Ashis Pradhan in place of Sahil Travora. Mumbai City Head Coach Petr Kratky also named a strong lineup in an attacking 4-3-3 formation.

Mumbai City pressed hard in the initial exchanges and earned two corners putting pressure on the Punjab defence. The home side settled into the game and started to stitch together some fine counter attacking moves keeping the Mumbai City defence on their toes. Wilmar Jordan disturbed the Mumbai goal twice but one was ruled out for off-side and the other for handling the ball. The Islanders took the lead in the 16th minute. Jayesh Rane robbed the ball from Ricky Shabong which looked like a foul but the referee allowed the game to continue. Jayesh slipped in the ball to Bipin Singh whose shot was saved well by Ravi Kumar but the rebound fell kindly for Lallianzuala Chhangte who just had to poke the ball into the empty net.

Punjab FC pile on the pressure

Punjab FC piled on the pressure after conceding with the dynamic Madih Talal instrumenting the surge. Mumbai city cracked under the relentless pressure of Punjab’s front three and soon found the lead. Ricky Shabong found Wilmar Jordan inside the box and the Colombian set up Talal. The Frenchman made short work of the defence and hit a curler that landed on the top corner beating Phurba Lachnepa. The Shers found the lead in the very next minute, with Talal again in the forefront of the attack. His looping left footed ball from the left wing found an always ready Wilmar Jordan inside the box who had no trouble finding the net.

Mumbai City started the second half on the front foot creating pressure on the Punjab defence as they were searching for an early equalizer. Iker Guarrotxena’s surging run into the box could not be stopped by the Punjab defence and after a scramble inside the box, the ball fell on the path of the Spaniard who slotted it past the keeper to level the scores. Mumbai then went on to take the lead in the 64th minute from a well worked team goal. Jayesh Rane found Iker Guarrotxena through a defence splitting pass and the Spaniard kept his composure and finished past the diving Ravi Kumar for his second of the game. On the other end defender Dimitrios Chatziisaias came close to scoring of a Madih Talal free kick but the defenders header went wide of the post. Punjab FC started to pile on the pressure in search of the equalizer with most of the game played in the Mumbai half. Wilmar Jordan forced a fine save out of Mumbai keeper Phurba Lachenpa. Later, substitute Juan Mera set up Wilmar Jordan but the Colombian’s effort was blocked by Tiri. In the final minute of injury time, Madih Talal almost found the equalizer through a direct free kick which went inches wide and Mumbai City secured the three points.

Punjab FC remained in tenth position in the table with 17 points from 17 matches while Mumbai City FC remained at second position with 35 points from 17 matches. Punjab FC will face NorthEast United FC on March 7th at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati