Kerala Blasters and Mumbai City FC produced a lacklustre display in front of packed 28,445 supporters at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Both the teams failed to create clear cut chances and provide their frontline with ammunitions to fire. An 82nd-minute strike from ex Hertha Berlin striker, Amine Chermiti, saw Mumbai bring home all three points from Kochi. Amrinder Singh then pulled off an incredible save in the dying moments to keep his team's lead intact.
“Can someone hold on to the ball for 30 seconds at least,” exclaimed the commentator scrutinizing the lacklustre display by both the teams. Paul Masefield termed the ball as a hot potato where no one wanted to hold on to the ball for long. Miss passes and turnovers filled the first half. At the end of the first half, the Blasters had 69% and Mumbai 64 % pass accuracy.
Most of the chances in the first half came from set-pieces by both the teams. Kerala Blasters could have taken the lead from Sergio Cidoncha’s free-kick just before the end of the first half, but Mouhamadou Gning couldn’t put the ball in the net from Jessel Carneiro’s flick or an off-target header.
Mumbai was dealt a huge blow at the fag end of the first half when Mato Grgic and Paulo Machado were subbed off due to injury. It was a surprise to see Mumbai’s highest scorer in ISL 2018-19 Modou Sougou to warm the bench. Sougou came on for Paul Machado who did little in the final third to influence the game.
Mumbai’s high press and turnovers from both the teams continued in the second half. The stats board at the end of the game reflected 66% passing accuracy for the Blasters and 59% for Mumbai.
There was very little going on in the final third of both the teams. Lack of composure in the midfield and slow build-up hardly created anything for the frontline to operate. Eelco Schattorie started with the same midfield as he did against ATK in the opening fixture which meant the classy Sahal Abdul Samad had to warm the bench for most of the game. Kerala Blasters were clearly missing the dribbling ability and creativity of Sahal, who is known for his penchant for getting past his markers with ease.
Kerala Blasters defence was in disarray and Bilal Khan’s poor performance didn’t help the cause. Too much of space was left in the flanks by the Blasters defenders for the Mumbai wingers and full-backs to operate. Kerala Blasters defenders could not deal with the miscued cross from Sauvik Chakrabarti which eventually fell in the path of Amine Chemiti, who calmly caressed the ball in the low right corner.
Amrinder Singh was called in action in the dying minutes of the game, where his stupendous reflex helped Mumbai claim all three points. Dangerman Ogbeche received a cross from Sahal which he received brilliantly, his back faced to Mumbai goal. He turned and shot but his powerful volley was saved brilliantly by Amrinder.
Slow build-up, turnovers and lack of composure were on display throughout the game. Amine Chermiti’s brilliant first touch and his ability to run the flanks could give Mumbai a much-needed addition. Amine along with Sougou could provide opposition defenders hard times throughout ISL 2019-20. Kerala Blasters have a lot to ponder upon in the defensive end as well as needs much more creativity from the midfielders.