Aridane Santana and Xisco Hernandez came back to haunt Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League as Josep Gombau’s masterclass led Odisha FC to a league double – a 2-0 win this time - over the Islanders.
Odisha, having arrived on the back of a 2-0 win over Chennaiyin FC on Monday, registered their fourth win in five games, and with this, moved fourth in the league tally, while Mumbai slipped a place to sit fifth.
Gombau’s tactics were plain and simple; stretch the game, deliver high balls into the area and exploit Mumbai City FC’s frailty. Such was their dominance on the night that they won two corners inside the opening five minutes.
In threatening Mumbai’s defence, a certain Jerry Mawihmingthanga played a huge role. The 22-year-old, who scored one and assisted two the last time these two sides met, attempted four crosses on the night, and Mumbai had no answers to his deliveries.
The deadlock was broken by none other than Aridane Santana, who was left unmarked into the area, and the Spanish forward made no mistake in driving his side into the lead. The 32-year-old then returned the favour in the 74th minute as his national compatriot, Xisco sealed the game with a neat finish.
Mumbai, on their part, hardly created any major opportunity and thus came to an end their perfect record away from home.
Defence failed to read the threat
Known for troubling their opponents with an immaculate wing play, Odisha FC had scored 53% of their goals through crosses before the fixture and Mumbai should have read the danger early in the game. However, as they failed to grasp the momentum, the likes of Narayan Das (eight crosses), Jerry and Xisco (four crosses each) started threatening by stretching the game out wide.
A defeat means Mumbai’s defence has been breached on 21 occasions, only Hyderabad FC have conceded more goals this season. Meanwhile, a goal and an assist on the night means Xisco has now contributed in seven goals in his last 11 outings for Odisha, which includes two goals and an assist against Mumbai alone.
No sync in attack
Mumbai’s defence was duly at fault in Kalinga Stadium, but it was their attacking line that failed to deliver anything positive. With Serge Kevyn, Amine Chermiti and Modou Sougou all starting in front, Mumbai were expected to give Odisha a run for their money. Contrary to that, the trio attempted a mere five shots on goal between them, with only one being on target.
The closest Mumbai actually came to scoring was in the 44th minute when Sougou swung in a right-footed drive, but his shot sailed wide, and that was it. Chermiti, who happens to be Mumbai’s top scorer this season with four goals, is without a goal in his last five appearances and has attempted just one shot in his last four games. Sougou, on his part, has only scored in one out of the 10 games he has been a part of.
Up next for Mumbai is a firm test against the defending champions, Bengaluru FC at Mumbai Football Arena on Friday.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndSuperLeague