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I-League: Unconvincing Bharat FC go down 0-2 to Mumbai FC

Goals from Josimar Da Silva Martins and SampathKuttymani gave Mumbai FC their first away win of the season

BHARAT FC GO DOWN 0-2 TO MUMBAI FC
 Bharat FC’s marquee player Romuald Boco in action

An unconvincing display by an injury and suspension ridden Bharat FC side saw them go down 0-2 to Mumbai FC at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mhalunge-Balewadi on Friday night in a Hero I-League round 8clash. Goals from Josimar Da Silva Martins and SampathKuttymani gave Mumbai FC their first away win of the season.

The defeat ensured that Bharat FC stay tenth on the I-League table while Mumbai FC have moved to fourth place. The game, a largely cagey affair, was decided by two goals, scored in each half. Bharat FC’s head coach, Stuart Watkiss, termed his side’s display as undercooked and said that his side lacked enthusiasm and attacking drive.

Mumbai FC had the first chance of the game as an underpowered Syed Rahim Nabi back pass was pounced upon by Mohammed Rafi. The attacker advanced into the Bharat FC box, cut the ball back for the advancing Josimar but the Brazilian’s effort clanged against the post, letting Bharat FC off the hook.

In the 16th minute, it was again Rafi who took advantage of indecision in the Bharat FC defense, stealing the ball of J Prasad. The pacy forward dribbled into the penalty box, looked up and let fly only to see the ball again bounce back off the post. Though shaken by these two raids, Bharat FC managed to string a few moves that unsettled the Mumbai FC defense. Steven Dias whipped in a couple of crosses that caused confusion in the Mumbai FC defense. RomualdBoco, perhaps the Lions’ best player on the night, constantly found space for himself down the center, often releasing his wider players into space. In the 27th minute, Boco advanced down the center, deftly swiveled around the retreating Chika Wali and drilled off a shot which trickled wide of the far post at the last moment.

However, it was Mumbai FC that took the lead in the 36th minute. Josimar was felled by a rather needless MehrajuddinWadoo tackle on the edge of the Bharat FC box, as the Brazilian striker moved away from goal to try and shake of defensive attention. Wadoo’s misdirected lunge saw the referee immediately point to the spot. Josimar slammed his penalty straight down the middle and Bharat FC custodian Arindam Bhattacharya was unlucky as the ball squeezed in under his body, giving the visitors the lead.

The Lions tried to summon up an immediate response as J Prasad shot from 25 yards out but could not direct his shot on target. The second half saw Bharat FC push up-field in search of the leveler but Mumbai FC seemed content to defend stoutly, seeming keen to put bodies behind the ball as Bharat FC probed for an opening.

In the 71st minute, SampathKuttymani put the result beyond doubt with an emphatic finish after Josimar’s shot was brilliantly saved by Arindam. The burly striker’s effort from eight yards out was kept out by a diving Arindam but Kuttymani was unchallenged as he took his time and placed his shot perfectly in the corner.

Watkiss threw on Surajit Bose and Tomba Singh in the hope of getting something out of the game and it was the latter who almost conjured up a goal in the 87th minute. The Manipuri midfielder picked up the ball in the center of the field, driving up. Tomba precisely picked out Manjit Singh in the Mumbai FC penalty box, but the striker’s effort was saved by a last-ditch block by centre-back Justin Stephen.

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