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Mumbai City FC 2-0 Bengaluru FC: 3 Reasons why the defending champions lost | ISL 2019-20

Modified 17 Jan 2020, 21:39 IST

Mumbai snapped their losing streak
Mumbai snapped their losing streak

Mumbai City FC cruised past Bengaluru FC 2-0 at the Mumbai Football Arena to snap their two-game losing streak. The Islanders, courtesy the win, now find themselves just a couple of points off Odisha FC, who sit fourth in the table.

The game began on even terms as both sides looked scruffy in possession. However, the hosts edged ahead in the 13th minute when a moment of defensive indecision allowed Modou Sougou the room to head beyond the onrushing Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

The Blues tried to stitch together something substantial but failed as the Islanders entered the tunnel with a one-goal lead tucked in their pocket.

After the break, Bengaluru looked a bit more purposeful but they shot themselves in the foot in the 55th minute when an errant back-pass fell into Amine Chermiti’s path. The striker made no mistake and beat the keeper from close range.

Thereafter, the visitors weren’t able to churn out anything meaningful as the hosts saw out the game clinically.

Here is a look at the three reasons why Bengaluru lost the encounter.

#3 Bengaluru fail to get into their passing rhythm

Bengaluru lacked rhythm in midfield
Bengaluru lacked rhythm in midfield

Bengaluru FC fielded a full-strength eleven for the trip to Mumbai and many expected them to continue in a similar vein to their victory against Jamshedpur FC. However, unfortunately for the Blues, nothing of the sort transpired as they embodied a car stuck in 2nd gear for the entirety of the encounter.

For large swathes of the game, the visitors’ passing seemed sluggish and their build-up play lacked imagination. They kept pinging the ball from side to side without really threatening the hosts’ rear-guard.


The likes of Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu and Harmanjot Khabra failed to assert themselves in the middle of the park and that meant that there wasn’t any rhythm to the Blues’ offensive play.

In attack, Sunil Chhetri often cut a frustrated figure whereas Manuel Onwu again turned in an abject performance. The Spaniard, despite having several opportunities to bring his teammates into play, failed to trouble Pratik Chaudhari and Mato Grgic.

Most worryingly though, Bengaluru FC were unable to create any gilt-edged opportunities from open play, thereby having to rely on openings from set-pieces. And, while that could’ve been swatted away as an anomaly last term, it has become a worrying trend in 2019-20.

Subsequently, the lack of a cutting edge might end up causing Cuadrat more than a furrowed brow, much more than the loss of three points.

#2 Rowllin Borges dominates midfield

Rowllin was immense in midfield
Rowllin was immense in midfield

In the off-season, Mumbai City FC burnt the midnight oil to bring Rowllin Borges on-board. The Indian, who had impressed at NorthEast United FC previously, seemed the ideal addition to Jorge Costa’s midfield.

So far, the midfielder has lent weight to those notions as he has conjured several solid displays in the centre of the park. However, on Friday, he produced perhaps his best game in a Mumbai City FC jersey.

From the outset, Rowllin imposed himself in the middle third and constantly snapped at the heels of Delgado and Paartalu. Subsequently, the midfield pairing was unable to get on the ball and pick out significant forward passes.

Furthermore, the Indian found himself in the right place at the right time to mop up the danger and spring swift counter-attacking moves for his side. One such instance occurred in the 13th minute when Rowllin picked up the ball in midfield, sized up his options and floated a sumptuous through-ball for Sougou. The Senegalese did the rest and made the net ripple.

Even after the break, the Indian was colossal in midfield as he kept recycling possession efficiently. He ended the game with 58 touches, 8 tackles, 5 clearances and 2 blocked shots.

Throughout the current campaign, the Islanders have largely blown hot and cold, with their three-game winning run being followed by a two-match losing sequence recently.

Yet, among all the ups and downs, Mumbai have been able to bank on the quality of Rowllin. And, when the occasion demanded, the Indian came through spectacularly and he did so without a blemish.

#1 Bengaluru FC dig their own grave

Gurpreet was at fault for the opening goal
Gurpreet was at fault for the opening goal

Coming into the contest at the Mumbai Football Arena, Bengaluru FC had shipped in just 7 goals across 12 matches, meaning that they represented the meanest defence in the ISL, and by quite some distance.

However, on Friday, the defending champions contrived to dig their own graves as they handed out late Christmas presents, gifts that ultimately consigned them to their 3rd defeat in the campaign.

During the early exchanges, both sides had cancelled each other out, thereby creating an extremely scrappy and cagey encounter. However, just as the Blues seemed to be growing in stature, they undid themselves with an elementary error at the back.

After Rowllin was accorded space in midfield, the Indian picked out the run of Sougou, who had run beyond Nishu Kumar. At that juncture, Juanan looked equipped to clear the danger, considering he had been on the cover. Yet, Gurpreet somehow decided to come flapping at the ball, despite it being near the edge of the box.

Unsurprisingly, he failed to get enough contact, meaning that Sougou headed the ball beyond the keeper and into the net.

After the restart, Harmanjot capped off his dreadful display by nodding the ball into the path of Chermiti, despite not being under pressure. Consequently, the Tunisian steadied himself and lashed the ball past Gurpreet.

Apart from the goals, there were plenty of other instances wherein the keeper and the defensive line indulged in acts of miscommunication, although they weren’t punished.

Over the course of the season, the Blues have looked one of the most composed and well-drilled outfits across the competition. Yet, rather uncharacteristically, those traits failed to come to the fore on Friday. And, in the process, they meekly surrendered at the Mumbai Football Arena.

Published 17 Jan 2020, 21:39 IST
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