Mumbai FC downs Shillong Lajong to stay afloat

Mumbai took the lead through Steven Dias which was neutralised by its North-Eastern rival through Fabio Pena from a spot-kick before a late goal by Min-chol Son, four minutes from time, secured all three points for the home team.

Shillong Lajong's Penn Orji (L) duels with Mumbai FC's Son Min-Chol for the ball in an I-League encounter.   -  Prashant Nakwe

Mumbai FC pulled off a much-needed 2-1 victory over Shillong Lajong in an I-League football game at the Cooperage ground here today, to keep alive its hopes of avoiding relegation.

Mumbai took the lead through Steven Dias (41st minute) which was neutralised by its North-Eastern rival through Fabio Pena (56th) from a spot-kick before a late goal by Min-chol Son, four minutes from time, secured all three points for the struggling home team.

The victory pushed Mumbai up the table to seventh from the bottom slot ahead of its final game against Pune’s league debutants DSK Shivajians next Sunday here. Lajong, on the other hand, has dropped down to the danger zone.

Mumbai started on a determined note and created an opening in the third minute when Jayesh Rane’s cross was wasted by Dias at the far post. Four minutes later Mumbai’s Japanese midfielder Taisuke Matsugae blasted the ball over the bar and immediately afterwards Eric Brown’s shot hit the side netting.

Lajong soaked up the early pressure and slowly got into the game. In the 37th minute, Penn Orji right-footed the ball inches over the bar from the edge of the box. But Mumbai was finally rewarded when Brown was fouled outside the box and Dias’s scored with a shot into the top corner to give the home team a 1-0 lead at half-time.

Crossing over, Mumbai was twice denied by the woodwork. A foul on Rane saw Brown’s free-kick strike the crossbar and rebound into play and then Rane’s effort hit the upright to save Lajong.

Lajong equalised through Fabio who scored from the penalty spot after Penn was brought down inside the box by a Mumbai FC defender.

Both sides wasted a few chances before Mumbai surged into the lead again through Minchol Son in the 86th minute through a goalkeeping error. Dias’s corner was headed by Son and should have been blocked by Lajong ‘keeper Vishal Kaith who, instead of collecting the ball with both hands, deflected it into his own goal.