Chennaiyin FC’s Lucian Goian scored a late winner against his former team, Mumbai City FC, to hand the Marina Machans a 1-0 win at the Mumbai Football Arena on Friday. The result sealed Chennaiyin’s spot in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 semi-finals and ended the Islanders’ and Odisha FC’s chances of featuring in the knock out stages this term. Both teams went into the match knowing that a win would confirm them a top four spot. Also Read - ISL: Hyderabad FC End Season With a Thumping 5-1 Win Over NorthEast United FC
After a goalless first half, Mumbai were reduced to 10 men in the 54th minute after Sourav Das was shown a red card. Lucian Goian scored the winner for Chennaiyin in the 83rd minute.
Chennaiyin made a bright start pressing high and worrying the Mumbai defence early on but the home team soon upped their tempo to match their opponents, turning it into a tightly fought contest. With players from both sides fighting tooth and nail for every available inch of free space, the first goal promised to be crucial in the narrative of things.
The Islanders had two big chances around the 25-minute mark. Chennaiyin custodian Vishal Kaith made a good save to keep out Diego Carlos’ low shot from distance and seconds later, Laldinliana Renthlei managed to put just enough pressure to put off Amine Chermiti just when it seemed like the Tunisian striker would have a free header on goal.
Minutes later, Chennaiyin threatened to create some problems at the other end as Jerry Lalrinzuala found himself with space inside the Mumbai box but Amrinder Singh came out bravely to snuff out the brewing danger.
As the half progressed, the home team seemed the likelier to find the elusive first goal but the half time whistle sounded with the teams deadlocked at 0-0.
The narrative continued after the restart as the Islanders continued dominating the proceedings. Seven minutes into the second period, an important moment unfolded as Chermiti seemed through on goal but Kaith came out of his box and brought the striker down. Despite Mumbai players seemingly demanding a red card for the foul, the referee showed Kaith a yellow. The effect of the decision compounded just seconds later at the other end. Mumbai gave the ball away from a set piece situation and Lallianzuala Chhangte was set free to have a free run at the Mumbai goal. Sourav Das clipped the winger from behind and brought him down, leaving the referee little choice but to send him off.
Despite being a man down, however, it was the Islanders who continued creating the more dangerous chances. In the 67th minute, Chermiti could have given the 10-man home team the lead. The forward did exceptionally well to control a long pass from the deep to open up a shooting opportunity but his finishing didn’t quite match his first touch.
After the 70th minute, the away side started making their numerical advantage count and could have gone ahead. Thoi Singh cut the ball back for an onrushing Germanpreet Singh, who got his shot on target. Amrinder, however, stuck out a leg to make a crucial save.
The pressure finally paid off in the 83rd minute from a corner. Nerijus Valskis flicked header at the near post fell to Lucian Goian, a former Mumbai City player, at the far post. The centre back stabbed the ball past Amrinder to give Chennaiyin a 1-0 lead. With time running out, Mumbai threw men forward to claw their way back into the contest and keep their season alive but failed to find an equalizer. The match ended 1-0 in Chennaiyin’s favour.