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Brave FC Goa went toe-to-toe against mighty Mumbai City

Mourtada Fall turned out to be a lucky footballer in the first leg of the ISL semis against Goa…

A brave FC Goa matched Mumbai City’s might in an exciting four-goal thriller which ended as a draw on Friday.

In the first leg of the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL)  semi-final. Mumbai City started on the backfoot as Mohammed Rakip’s injury and Amey Ranawade’s suspension meant Sergio Lobera chose to play Mandar Rao Dessai at right-back. And it was the first move that went wrong for the league stage winners. 

Jorge Ortiz tormented Mumbai City’s right flank at will and Mandar struggled to contain the winger. The full-back did not get off to a good start as his poor pass in the 17th minute put left-back Vignesh Dakshinamurthy chasing Alexander Jesuraj into the box. The winger was tripped just outside the box but Mumbai City escaped without a stoppage in play. 

Two minutes later, the stand-in right-back brought down Ortiz inside the box and this time, the referee had no qualms to award a stonewall penalty. Igor Angulo sent the keeper the wrong way to break the deadlock for the Gaurs. 

Mumbai then pushed hard to get back into the game. The early jolt helped them gather themselves in the midfield and the Islanders drew level before the first half ended. Hugo Boumous beat goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh with a neatly taken effort from the edge of the box after FC Goa players failed to clear the ball when they had the chance to do so during the build-up.

Seriton Fernandes had to be forced off the field due to an injury and Ferrando handed a debut to youngster Leander D’Cunha. Despite playing against a debutant for more than 45 minutes, the Islanders struggled to make the most of that situation. 

Instead, they allowed Goa to take the lead again after the break. In order to play both Ogbeche and Le Fondre together in the attack, Lobera had to sacrifice Hernan Santana in defence but this change meant that the Islanders looked more vulnerable than they usually do. The Mumbai defence backed off Saviour Gama as he ran at the defence and the full-back drove a low shot past Amrinder to score Goa’s second of the night. 

But the celebrations didn’t last long as an Ahmed Jahouh cross two minutes later put the Gaurs defence in sixes and sevens, allowing Mourtada Fall to easily head home to score an equaliser with no Gaurs player near him to put up an aerial challenge.

The contest swung from one end to another but Goa’s resilient to hold Mumbai City deserved credit. They were not prepared to sit back and counter and instead tried to take on the Islanders. Mumbai City ended the game as the luckier side as Mourtada Fall’s aggressive two-footed challenge on Princeton Rebello towards the end of the game escaped a red card. 

This would certainly add more resilience to their defence and pose more questions to Mumbai’s backline given Noguera’s nous for threading a key pass. For Mumbai, Amey Ranawade will return from suspension which would mean that they will be better placed to deal with Ortiz. Cy Goddard would certainly be an option for Lobera given that his deliveries from wide positions have been accurate.   

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