Mumbai City FC’s six-game unbeaten run in the Indian Super League (ISL) came to an abrupt end as Roy Krishna-led ATK ran out 2-0 victorious at Mumbai Football Arena on Saturday. The Islanders, who entered the game on the back of a four-game unbeaten run against ATK, started off on a bright tone, sending in some back-to-back crosses into the area, but the accuracy was what they were lacking.
Both Mumbai and ATK had played an absolute spectacle earlier in the season when two goals in the added minutes from either team shared the stakes. The story, this time around though, was completely contrary, with ATK dominating once they got into the groove.
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The deadlock was broken by the visitors a minute before the half-hour mark when midfielder Pronay Haldar put the ball into the net after striker David Williams did well to get the better of Mumbai’s defence. As the game approached the break, ATK doubled their lead, and this time it was substitute Michael Soosairaj, who scored an absolute curling belter from the edge of the area.
It was the same story altogether in the second period, and although Mumbai moved a gear, it just wasn’t enough to salvage anything positive from the game.
What went wrong for Mumbai
ATK are known to play free-flowing football and often catch their opponents with surprise through balls. The two-time champions, in fact, have scored most goals with through balls (8) than any other team in the ISL, and Mumbai simply seemed unaware of the fact. Once into their self, ATK started threatening not just low balls, but also sent in some serious aerial through.
A defence, which was without Sarthak Golui, struggled not just in possession, but also failed to keep up with the pace ATK were threatening. Once Mumbai were left chasing, ATK made sure there is no way up from that.
As for the home team, Modou Sougou seemed promising at times and an early chance did come his way, but lack of power means he was unable to test Arindam Bhattacharya between the sticks. The brightest who shone in Mumbai’s colours was Mohamed Larbi. The Tunisian, who remains a constant fixture in Jorge Costa’s plan this season, was part of every attack Mumbai built on the night. Left, right, centre, the Tunisian was everywhere on the field. But as the game progressed, his effect faded in thin air.
ATK ended the night with six shots on target – a similar figure to Mumbai’s. Mumbai, on paper, were the superior team all ends up; more shots, better possession, more passes with better accuracy, but at the end of the day, the clinical edge which ATK topped was always lacking.
Sougou, who scored a hat-trick against ATK last season, did put the ball into the net a couple of times into the second period, but for once, the referee waved his flag on and the second time it was a clear foul on Bhattacharya.
To sum up, nothing worked in favour of the home team on the night.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndSuperLeague