Mumbai City FC continue their winning run as the reigning champions trump Bengaluru FC 3-1 in their latest Indian Super League clash. It all started with a mistake in the Bengaluru FC backline that handed Igor Angulo with an early spot-kick. The Spaniard made no mistakes in handing the Islanders the lead.
However, a brilliant freekick from Cleiton Silva restored parity for the Blues. But second-half strikes from Mourtada Fall and Ygor Catatau handed all three points to Des Buckingham's men. Apart from the goals, there were plenty of talking points from the epic clash.
Consistent Angulo scores again
Igor Angulo has proven his mettle last season during his time at FC Goa and he has carried that form to Mumbai City this season. The 37-year-old forward has only improved under Des Buckingham as he gets more involved in the Islanders' attacking buildup. Today again, he did put in a great shift and also stepped up and scored from the spot.
Angulo's movement and ability to combine with other players in the attack make him a cut above the rest. Under Buckingham, he has rejuvenated his career and Englishman will have a lot less to worry if his trusted Spaniard keeps scoring goals with such consistency.
Cleiton Silva remains the brightest spark for Bengaluru
After winning their opening fixture against North East United, the Blues have struggled to keep up the momentum in their last three matches. But in this difficult period, the only player that has stepped up and performed consistently has to be Cleiton Silva. The Brazilian has been the driving force of this team since last season and that has not changed. Cleiton's ability to play in multiple positions and take up multiple roles in attack makes him a trailblazer for the Blues.
Even in defeat, Cleiton delivered a strong performance against the reigning champions. His movement and positioning always kept the Mumbai City defenders on their toes. He got rewards for his efforts when he came up with a fantastic freekick goal to restore parity in the game in the first half. The freekick was in his territory and he went for it as it swirled over the wall and then thundered into the top corner of the net.
Buckingham's changes were on point
The English tactician has taken Indian football by storm with his fresh ideas and aggressive pressing football. Buckingham was not rated by some of the fans but ever since the Islanders defeated Goa in their opening match, people started realising their mistakes. Buckingham is a shrewd tactician who likes to play in a certain way. But today Bengaluru FC did not allow Mumbai City to play their natural game in the first half. So Buckingham made some changes to take control of the game and it worked like a charm.
Bengaluru opted for a man to man marking strategy in the first half and played with a lot of intensity, mainly to clog Mumbai City's style. Vikram Pratap who was the hero against ATK Mohun Bagan could not do much. Hence Buckingham brought in Raynier Fernandes who used his experience in beating the press and also overloaded the midfield when needed.
He then saw how Cassinho was heavily marked by the Bengaluru defenders as they did not let the Brazilian play his natural game. So Buckingham decided to bring in Ygor Catatau to bolster the attack upfront. The change paid dividends as Catatau scored the insurance goal for the Islanders. He also brought on Rowllin Borges for Lalengmawia to add more steel in the midfield. Overall his proactiveness in making changes and using his resources at hand has been a very underrated quality.
Sunil Chhetri's barren run continues
It is not often that we get to pinpoint Sunil Chhetri's goalscoring woes. But such has been the norm this season. The 37-year-old forward has struggled to get going and has looked a shadow of himself in the first four matches of this campaign. There are no questions on his effort and work rate but he has simply been wasteful in the final third.
Chhetri missed a controversial spot-kick against Odisha FC at a crucial juncture. It looked like a tame effort and Kamaljit Singh had no trouble denying the Blues skipper. The same thing unfolded against the Islanders as Mohammed Nawaz stepped up to the cause this time, denying Chhetri a crucial spot-kick. Had he scored there, Bengaluru FC would have had the lead in the game and things could have been different for them. The Indian skipper will hope that this is just a rough phase and things will only improve in the coming matches. Head coach Marco Pezzaiouli will hope that Chhetri finds the target soon as it will only lift his morale and help him get back to his natural self.
Mourtada Fall: Mumbai City's guardian angel
The big Senegalese defender is always associated with his defensive abilities but his knack for scoring from setpieces is often overlooked. Fall once again handed the Islanders a crucial goal from a Jahouh freekick. The game was in the balance for both sides and a goal at that moment changed everything for Buckingham's men. Fall has saved Mumbai City a lot in the past. Apart from keeping forwards at bay, he has also worked a lot of his goalscoring.
Fall with this headed goal against Bengaluru from a freekick becomes the highest headed goalscorer (15) in the history of the Indian Super League. The man from Senegal is also the highest goalscoring defender in ISL history. Over the years Fall has matured as a leader for Mumbai City and now if he can't stop them from going in, he can definitely score a few to help Buckingham's cause.