ISL 2021-22: Hyderabad FC crushes Mumbai's playoffs hopes
Defending champions Mumbai City are out from the playoffs race
Mumbai City FC was sealed with a shock as the double defending Champion failed to qualify for the semi-finals after a 2-1 defeat to Hyderabad FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the PJN Stadium, Fatorda. The result confirmed all four semifinalists as Mumbai's loss cleared the road ahead for Kerala Blasters.
Rohit Danu (14') gave an early lead to the Nizams with an opportune finish which was doubled by Joel Chianese (41') before the first half ended. Mourtada Fall (76') pulled one back in the second half but it was not enough to prevent the defeat.
A positive start to the game by Hyderabad FC was rewarded by an early goal from Rohit Danu. The striker was fortunate to end up with the ball after multiple deflections but made no mistake in finishing on the far post inside the first 15-minutes. Sauvik Chakrabarti got a shot on target a few minutes before the half-hour mark, but it was straight at Phurba Lachenpa in goal.
The Islanders pushed forward looking for the equaliser and saw Amey Ranawade hit the side-netting. Then, Vikram Pratap Singh got a shot on target from the right flank but it was not enough to equalise. However, on the stroke of the 40th-minute, Joel Chianese scored against the run of play, after latching on to a brilliant aerial through ball from Yasir Mohammad. The Australian scored from the one-on-one situation to extend HFC's lead to two and give MCFC a mountain to climb in the second half.
Mumbai City FC came out all guns blazing in the second half, knowing they had to win this match at all costs. However, their attempts at goal were nullified by strong defending from a well-organised HFC team. Manolo Marquez was forced into making a change after the hour mark following as Danu pulled his hamstring and got replaced by Akash Mishra.
Just when all hopes of a comeback seemed gone, Mourtada Fall turned up with a headed goal with 15 minutes left in the match. The Islanders clearly lacked inspiration in the final third and anything meaningful came from Fall's head. Despite getting five minutes of added time for stoppages, MCFC could not find the goals to turn the game around and succumbed to a defeat that would also end their campaign.
Hyderabad FC will be next involved in the semi-finals that begin from 11 March onwards. As for Mumbai City FC, the season comes to an end.