Shillong Lajong’s late equaliser break Mumbai FC hearts

Shillong Lajong faces league leader Aizawl FC next in the final round of I-League matches while MFC will host East Bengal.

Yuta Kinowaki controls the ball in Shillong Lajong’s match against Mumbai FC.   -  AIFF Media

Yuta Kinowaki struck in injury time for Shillong Lajong to help his team snatch a 1-1 draw after Mumbai FC had defended a second minute goal by Victorino Fernandes with great heart. The men in yellow had to settle for a point in I-League 17th round tie at the Cooperage ground in Mumbai. The visitor’s equaliser by the hard-running Japanese happened via a deflection, a stark contrast to the stunner scored by a stunner by the Indian.

READ: Yuta Kinowaki - Finding home away from home

Shillong Lajong faces league leader Aizawl FC next in the final round of I-League matches while MFC will host East Bengal. The Meghalaya side remains in the fifth position (25 points), two points behind Bengaluru FC. The Mumbai side move up into ninth place (13 points), above Minerva Punjab FC.

MFC was lucky to survive a Kinowaki attempt earlier in the second half, the ball crashed into the goalpost and bounced away from danger. The Japanese picked out Lalmuanpuia with a precise pass and the striker connected but MFC ‘keeper Laxmikant Kattimani reacted well. Kinowaki ran into space for a lob into the box but his header flew wide.

MFC brought in Thoi Singh as second-half substitute in place of Nikhil Kadam, who worked tirelessly in a first half dominated by Mumbai. The latter got a chance to score, turning to shoot a Faroukh pass, but was off-balance and his effort was off target.

Faroukh got into dangerous positions using speedy bursts and ability to spot space. A long pass from Mehrajuddin Wadoo found the young striker taking a try. Nikhil Kadam also stretched the defence on the right flank and took cracks at goal.

Two free-kicks at either end brought the goalkeepers into action. Kattimani judged an attempt by Issac from a setpiece situation. Vishal in the goal for Shillong reacted in time to foil a header by Victornio off a kick by Reagan Singh. The flow of attacks at both ends marked a lively first half.