Al-Shabab FC make it look easy against Mumbai City FC to reserve Round-of-16 berth

Mumbai City FC players during a training session ahead of their return leg fixture against Al-Shabab FC in the AFC Champions League (Image Courtesy: Mumbai City FC Instagram)
Mumbai City FC players during a training session ahead of their return leg fixture against Al-Shabab FC in the AFC Champions League (Image Courtesy: Mumbai City FC Instagram)

Mumbai City FC locked horns with Al-Shabab FC for their return leg fixture in the AFC Champions League and were handed a 6-0 drubbing.

Al-Shabab FC had been the best side in Group B with 10 points from 4 games and the previous meeting between the twohad gonr in favor of the White Lions.

One good sign for Des Buckingham's side was the return of their primary goal-getter, Igor Angulo. Meanwhile, the White Lions did not have Ever Banega in their line-up for this clash.

The match kicked off with both sides competing for possession. But Al-Shabab FC looked more aggressive without the ball and were quick to close down their opponents in their own half. Igor Angulo seemed secluded from the rest of his teammates because of how the White Lions were set up.

The Islanders had two back-to-back opportunities in the opposition's box. The first one fell to Raynier Fernandes, whose shot was saved by Al-Shabab FC's custodian Fawaz Al Qarni. A second chance fell in the way of Lalengmawia Ralte, whose attempt was also narrowed down by the Al-Shabab FC custodian.

At the other end, the White Lions managed to fire themselves into the lead after a series of short passes opened up the Mumbai City FC defense. Nawaf Al Abid's pass was a little too narrow but did not create any hassle for Hattan Bahebri, whose left-footed effort went through the legs of Phurba Lachenpa.

The White Lions were quite good in their defensive transition. They not only nullified Ahmed Jahouh's playmaking abilities but also managed to close down Mumbai City FC's wing play.

Buckingham's side did not have much luck in the final third. Angulo looked secluded inside the box, with nobody crowding the area for the second ball. The wingbacks were unable to cope with the pressure the Al-Shabab FC players put on them.

The Islanders defense also failed to cope with the pressure that was put on them. As a result, Mourtada Fall scored an own goal. The ball looked like it was going out of play but Fall tried to clear it in the other direction. However, a miskick led to the ball going over the line.

Al-Shabab FC rip up Mumbai City FC in the second half

Lalengmawia Ralte was the best player for Mumbai City FC. The young box-to-box midfielder played all over the pitch for the Islanders. But his efforts did not pay off even when he got an opportunity. The midfielder's shot was blocked. The wingers, Lallianzuala Chhangte and Bipin Singh, were either in defensive traps or offside traps, making them less efficient in this encounter.

Abdullah Al Joui took advantage of the Islanders' desperation and added a third goal. The build-up to the goal was initiated from the back. Moteb Al Harbi played a nicely-weighted ball for Al Joui, who turned inside to beat a defender before scoring.

The third goal putdaylight between the sides as Mumbai City FC seemed to have lost steam. Buckingham's side were defending in numbers after conceding the third goal due to high pressing by Al-Shabab FC.

The White Lions added a fourth goal to their tally in the 64th minute courtesy of Hattan Bahebri. The move developed from the left flank and the initial ball fell to Nawaf Al Abid, who turned provider for Bahebri.

Minutes later, Bahebri scored another to become a hat-trick hero for Al-Shabab FC. Hattan Bahebri initiated the move by progressing the ball to the right flank for teammate Khalid Al Ghamdi. He then ran into the box to receive a pass from Ghamdi and then took the ball over Rahul Bheke's head before launching his shot.

The White Lions slowed down the game but continued to take the ball forward smoothly. All of a sudden, they increased the tempo of the game and caught the Islanders napping. Two touches by two players opened up the entire defense, allowing Hattan Bahebri to gain access to both space and possession. Bahebri found Carlos in space, who managed to ease it past the charging Phurba Lachenpa.

The final moments of the game witnessed Des Buckingham's men trying to go all out for a consolation goal. The Islanders were able to create an opening but Lalengmawia Ralte's header was well over the crossbar. The result was a huge set-back for the Indian Super League (ISL) outfit in their Asian campaign.

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Edited by S Chowdhury
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