Mumbai City was made to work hard till the dying minutes of the game but the defending champion's persistence paid off when Rahul Bheke scored a late winner to hand Chennaiyin FC its first defeat of the season at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Wednesday.
The Islanders 1-0 win ensured it went ahead by four points in the Indian Super League points table ahead of Jamshedpur FC after six matches.
The goal came in the 89th minute when Ahmed Jahouh took a freekick that found Bheke who headed into the net.
Chennaiyin custodian Vishal Kaith too did not cover himself in glory while charging for that ball leaving the goal open for the header to sail to his left.
It was a match that pitted two contrasting styles of play with Mumbai’s attacking play measured against Chennaiyin’s sturdy defence.
For most parts of the game, CFC’s strategy of having at least five men behind seemed to be working as Mumbai struggled to break through free to pose any serious threat.
In the first half, Mumbai dominated possession two-to-one and was the team on the move in the first thirty minutes of the game.
The title-holder could have gone ahead quite early with the CFC goalkeeper making his first blunder of the game.
Amey Ranawade chipped inside the box and Kaith charged ahead to a ball that was nowhere near him only as he saw Igor Angulo’s header miss the goal narrowly by hitting the post.
Chennaiyin pulled things back in the final ten minutes of the first half and started positively after the break but couldn’t convert the half-chances which proved costly.
The team’s best chance came in the 48th minute when Jerry Lalrinzuala sent in an inch-perfect cross to Lukasz Gikiewicz, who couldn’t control the ball as his legs got tangled on the move before the Mumbai keeper came to his side’s rescue.
Mumbai City FC 1 (Rahul Bheke 86') bt Chennaiyin FC 0