Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Guwahati as the Highlanders remained one of only two sides to still be unbeaten in the Indian Super League.
The hosts raced off the blocks and immediately put the away side under pressure. Their endeavours were rewarded in the 9th minute when Panagiotis Triadis rippled the net from 25 yards with a rasping drive.
However, Mumbai responded 13 minutes later with Amine Chermiti finishing off a flowing attacking move. In the 32nd minute, the Tunisian bagged his second when he capitalised on some slack defending to acrobatically finish past Subhasish Roy.
Yet, NorthEast refused to back down as they kept pressing for an equaliser, which eventually arrived 3 minutes before half-time. Asamoah Gyan collected a forward pass in his stride and jinked his way past a couple of defenders before finishing coolly past Amrinder Singh.
The second half was quite scrappy and that allowed both teams to tighten things at the back. Consequently, neither managed to breach the other’s rear-guard as the sides ended the encounter deadlocked at 2-2.
Here is a look at the three reasons why Mumbai City could only post a draw against the Highlanders.
#3 Mumbai dominate midfield
For the contest against NorthEast United, Mumbai fielded perhaps their strongest midfield trio with Rowllin Borges returning to partner Mohamed Larbi and Paulo Machado. And, while the Portuguese wasn’t at his best for the entirety of the contest, his teammates put in immense performances as they barely allowed the Highlanders any control in the middle third.
Rowllin kept things ticking superbly in the centre of the park and that allowed Mumbai to spring several attacking moves. Moreover, he was present in the right place at the right time to sniff out danger and provide the requisite shield to the back four.
As for Larbi, he was slightly feistier and bit into challenges, meaning that he endured his fair share of confrontations. However, whenever he had the ball, he produced enough quality to trouble the hosts.
One such moment occurred in the 22nd minute when he picked out Modou Sougou’s run on the right, which enabled the Senegalese to square the ball for Chermiti to score.
Apart from that, the visitors’ midfield negated the spaces in between the lines in the second period, thereby forcing NorthEast to look for long passes into the channels behind the full-backs. Consequently, that isolated Gyan, laying the ideal foundation for Mumbai to build upon.
And, though they failed to come up with the decisive tilting scale, their excellent performance in midfield ensured that they didn’t return empty-handed.