Mumbai City FC beat Air Force Club by 1-0 in its final game in Group B of the AFC Champions League, and also the final game of its 2021-22 season at the King Fahd International stadium on Tuesday.
The result further extended Mumbai’s points tally to seven, the highest ever by an Indian side in the AFC Champions League.
Des Buckingham made three changes to his starting line-up. Vignesh D, Diego Mauricio and Vikram Partap started in place of Mandar Rao Dessai, Igor Angulo and Raynier Fernandes.
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The first substitution of the game also came early. Vikram Partap was subbed off for Brad Inman in the 24th minute.
It didn’t take too long for the Islanders to score, as they found the net in the next five minutes.
A quick counter was executed in the 30th minute, which saw Brad Inman release Lallianzuala Chhangte down the right with a sumptuous through ball. Chhangte’s cross was deflected, and he played his follow through to Inman, who was then at the edge of the box. Inman pulled the trigger and forced the goalkeeper into parrying the ball away. Fortunately, Diego Mauricio was alert enough to latch on to the loose ball and tap it into the net.
The first half ended in quite a heated fashion, owing to some refereeing controversy. Mourtada Fall was adjudged to have fouled an Air Force player at the edge of the box, and the referee blew the whistle.
However, in the subsequent moments, the ball was floated into the box and was headed into the Mumbai City goal. Initially, the referee awarded the goal despite the whistle having been blown.
After heavy opposition from the Islanders, the referee rescinded the decision and gave the free-kick – much to the dismay of Air Force Club. Mourtada Fall was then shown a yellow for his challenge.
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Much like the first half, the second half started with a booking as well. Safaa booked for a bad challenge on Apuia in the 51st minute.
The Iraqi side was desperate to pull one back. It attacked in waves, bombing down the wings and putting in a variety of crosses.
The following minutes were a show of how resilient Mumbai City was in defense. Irrespective of all the probing and stretching, the players dealt with all threats that were put up.
Within these twenty minutes, two changes were made by Des Buckingham. Vinit Rai and Mohammad Rakip were brought on for Diego Mauricio and Bipin Singh. Roderick Miller was also booked for a bad challenge during this timeframe.
With this victory, the Islanders recorded a second place finish in Group B of the AFC Champions League, finishing with 7 points.