ISL 2018-19: NorthEast United FC 0-1 Mumbai City FC - 5 Talking Points

Ogbeche failed to produce the goods for NEUFC today [Image: ISL]
Ogbeche failed to produce the goods for NEUFC today [Image: ISL]

NorthEast United FC hosted Mumbai City FC in their sixth round game which was also their third game at home. NorthEast United came into the game after having a five-match unbeaten run. This was their best start to an ISL season in their ISL history.

Despite being unbeaten in the first five games, the Highlanders were not able to win a game at home. They wanted to change that statistic as soon as possible, and Mumbai City provided them with the perfect opportunity.

The match started off in a fast-paced mode with Mumbai taking the lead through a freakish sixth-minute strike from Arnold Issoko to give the Islanders the early lead.

NorthEast United had more than a couple of chances to score but failed to capitalise from the opportunities created. The first half ended with the scoreboard reading 1-0 in favour of the team from the maximum city Mumbai.

The second half started with NorthEast United pushing them hard for the equaliser, but the Mumbai defence stood firm and didn't let anything get past them.

The match ended with 1-0, and thus Mumbai City became the team which stopped the NEUFC juggernaut in this season of the ISL.

On that note, let us take a look at the five talking points from today's game.

#5 Mourinho's philosophy takes the upper hand against Pep Guardiola's total football

Jorge Costa [Image: ISL]
Jorge Costa [Image: ISL]

You might be confused as to why we are mentioning Mourinho and Guardiola in a piece regarding the Indian Super League for that one needs to have a background check of both the coaches involved in the game today.

Eelco Schattorie, the NorthEast United gaffer, has openly admitted that he is a fan of the philosophy inspired by Pep Guardiola and Johan Cruyff. In his sojourn in India which has taken the Dutch coach to places like Kolkata and Guwahati, he has adhered to his philosophy of possession-based football and at times a touch of total football.

Jorge Costa, on the other hand, has the experience of working with someone like Jose Mourinho early on his career something which he admitted has had an immense impact of his style of football. Those familiar with the Special One's style of football would know that he prefers to defend deep and hit teams on the counter and use set pieces to their advantage.

Today in the game it was just that - a reflection of both the coaches' philosophy on the pitch and it just happened that the Portuguese coach occurred to get the upper hand compared to his Dutch counterpart.

NorthEast United had nearly 63% possession of the ball in the first half, but Mumbai had the crucial lead. Jorge Costa again showed it that by playing destructive football in the midfield one could get the better of sides playing possession-based football.

#4 Redeem Tlang and Puitea bright spots even in defeat for NorthEast United

Puitea in action [Image: ISL]
in action [Image: ISL]

It was a few minutes after NorthEast United had conceded, the match was being played mostly in the Mumbai half, Puitea turned his marker and passed it to Redeem who by then had come towards the centre of the pitch. Redeem then played probably the best cross of the ISL so far to Ogbeche who headed the ball inches wide.

Had the ball gone in which was a big possibility given that the entire Mumbai defence stood still like spectators admiring the brilliant move, it could have been one of the movements of the season so far.

Redeem's passes and crosses today were sublime and the way he moved and changed flanks was something to sit back and admire.

Lalthathanga Khawlhring who is also known as Puitea was probably the best Indian player for NorthEast United FC.

The young Mizo midfielder was brilliant on the ball, and his vision and passes were top notch today. What was even more rejoicing to see was the way he worked hard to regain lost possession. Seeing the young lad's positioning sense a lot of stars will have inferiority complexes. NorthEast United will hope that the two lads keep up the excellent work in the upcoming games.

#3 Mumbai's defensive wall stands firm

Mumbai City FC's Souvik Chakrabarti clears the ball [Image: ISL]
Mumbai City FC's Souvik Chakrabarti clears the ball [Image: ISL]

If one has to summarise the game in short, then one can say that NorthEast United played and created chances while Mumbai defended and won. Mumbai in total had only three clear-cut chances to score - all from counter attacks. One needs to have a look at the match replay to count the number of assaults NEUFC mounted on the Mumbai goal.

The defence of Lucian Goian, Joyner Lourenco, Souvik Chakrabarti and Subhasish Bose stood firm for the 96 odd minutes that were played and saw out wave after wave of NEUFC attacks.

The man who was most responsible for Mumbai getting the win was their goalkeeper Amrinder Singh. The Punjabi shot-stopper was brilliant throughout the game, and the way he commanded the D-Box was commendable.

Almost always he nullified NorthEast United's crosses by coming out of his line and catching the aerial balls. He made good use of his physical presence to outmuscle the NEUFC strikers during set pieces. He also pulled off some stunning saves from close quarters to ensure Mumbai left Guwahati with all three points in their kitty.

The Islanders have their whole defensive unit to thank for the victory tonight.

#2 Gallego and Ogbeche's vanishing act hurt NorthEast United FC

Ogbeche squandered a few chances [Image: ISL]
Ogbeche squandered a few chances [Image: ISL]

If one has learnt anything so far in the ISL watching NEUFC this season, then it is that Ogbeche and Gallego are the two engines of this NorthEast United side. Today was one rare evening when both of them failed to ignite the spark required.

Ogbeche had two brilliant chances to score, and it was very unlike him to squander those chances. On the other hand, seeing Gallego miss those chances and have a couple of misplaced passes was really hard to believe.

Gallego had more than a few chances to score today, but the Uruguayan was off the mark. His passes were also below par today when compared to his previous outings.

Speaking in favour of the duo, one can argue that the Mumbai defence and midfield profoundly marked both of them. For Mumbai, it was like hunting in packs whenever the ball went to Gallego and Ogbeche, and both of them found it hard to wriggle past the jungle of bodies that surrounded them.

#1 Confusions regarding the goal remain

Mumbai City FC players appealing for a goal [Image: ISL]
Mumbai City FC players appealing for a goal [Image: ISL]

It was the fourth minute, and Mumbai had earned themselves a corner. Paulo Machado floated one in which was cleared by the defence but the ball came back to the Portuguese midfielder who sent in another flat cross this time. The ball hit Arnold on the chest and went towards goal.

The NorthEast keeper Pawan Kumar dived full stretch to catch the ball, he did catch the ball, but in doing so, he went inside the line to do so. Now the big question that arises is that did the ball actually cross the line?

The replays were not very conclusive in answering that question. Another doubt which arises is that while the TV screens flashed the replay of the incident, it could be seen that there could have been a case of handball by Arnold before the ball went towards the goal.

All in all, since the incident happened in a crowded penalty box and TV cameras weren't helpful in providing a clear-cut picture of the situation. An element of doubt remains over whether the goal was legitimate or not.

Situations like these make the case of usage of VAR in ISL even stronger.

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