Mumbai City FC came from behind to score two goals late in the second half as Greg Stewart and Jorge Pereyra Diaz netted one each to hand the Islanders a 2-1 victory against Punjab FC at the Mumbai Football Arena during their Indian Super League match on Thursday.
Defending titles is arguably more difficult than winning them, but Mumbai City FC are putting up a strong case for the same by repeatedly coming from behind and picking up crucial points. They beat Kerala Blasters FC at the same venue in a similar manner last month and repeated those heroics to further extend Punjab’s search for their opening win of the season.
Punjab did all the right things for most of the game, with their talismanic striker Luka Majcen testing Mohammed Nawaz with a headed effort in the 14th minute.
Majcen looked determine to catch the opportunity of defeating Des Buckingham and his men in their own backyard, as he sprinted ahead with the ball and shot it accurately into the back of the net from outside of the 18-yard box in the 37th minute. The Slovenian, who was the highest goal-scorer in the I-League last season, notched his second strike of the season.
The home side regrouped in the second half though. Buckingham shook the line up slightly with the introduction of Lallianzuala Chhangte and Jayesh Rane in place of Vikram Pratap Singh and Akash Mishra in the 46th minute and 63rd minute respectively.
Mumbai kept knocking on the door repeatedly, with Diaz and Lalengmawia Apuia Ralte coming close to bagging the equaliser. Apuia in fact hit the post once.
The hosts eventually got a breakthrough when Stewart drove home a shot from long range that went past a diving Punjab FC goalkeeper Ravi Kumar.
Barely a minute later, Mumbai City took the lead.
A through-ball to Chhangte drew the goalkeeper out of position, and the Mizoram-winger laid it off to Diaz who slotted into an empty net and bag his fifth goal of the campaign.
Buckingham’s in-game tactical moves deserve praise, Rane and Chhangte came on as substitutes and bagged an assist each by setting a goal each for Stewart and Diaz respectively.
In fact, the 51 seconds between Mumbai City’s two goals is the second shortest duration between two goals by the same team in ISL history. The shortest is 38 seconds with both goals being scored by Aridane Santana in the 56th minute for Hyderabad against East Bengal in the ISL 2019-20 campaign.
Punjab lost their shape post that effort, with Dimitris Chatziisaias being shown the second yellow card and subsequently being sent off in the 98th minute.