ISL: Mumbai City FC falls to Hume heroics

Iain Hume’s anticipation and sharp reaction resulted in a surprise goal off a free-kick for Kerala Blasters FC in its away tie at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday.

Iain Hume of Kerala Blasters celebrates his goal against Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai on Sunday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Iain Hume’s anticipation and sharp reaction resulted in a surprise goal off a free-kick for Kerala Blasters FC in its away tie at the Mumbai Football Arena against the host.

The Canadian’s 23rd minute strike provoked Mumbai City FC to respond with counter-attacks, but a resolute defence backed by confident goalkeeping carried the day for the visitor.

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The solitary goal win in a free-flowing game, with fouls at both ends forcing a break in play, moved Kerala to sixth place in the 10-team league after 10 matches. Mumbai retain fifth position despite the defeat, their second at home. Hume’s canny act proved to be the only difference between both sides.

When the central defenders were getting into their positions, Courage Pekuson cashed in on the situation by tapping the ball forward for Hume to arrive in time alone and score.

Fans in Blasters yellow kept chanting Hume’s name through the night. He attempted a cheeky long-range strike after seeing rival custodian Amrinder Singh away from charge, the crowd roared but the ball flew wide. Late in the second half, the crowd favourite took a direct free-kick, forced the ball through the wall but could not beat Amrinder this time.

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Kerala looked positive and it did a lot of probing on both flanks. Fans in the away stands were on their feet as the ball broke through defensive ranks into the goalmouth, but Mumbai denied its rivals a clear shot at goal, till Jackichand Singh ran down the right goalline and shot from an acute angle. Amrinder was in the way.

The home team strove hard to win balls in the midfield, Emana remained the provider once for Balwant Singh whose attempt was cleared by Jhingan. For a long stretch thereafter, the visitor backline engaged themselves in tackling and first-time blocks. Everton Santos set up Balwant but was flagged for offside.

Kerala defence came under pressure immediately after resumption, a timely header by Lalruathara kept away a try by the tireless Balwant. Mumbai attempted to split the defence, closed down space whenever the ball reached the box. Subashish Roy Chowdhury under the bar radiated confidence. Blasters skipper Sandesh Jhingesh led by example at the back.

The away support

Kerala Blasters’ stand was no less than a yellow flash mob during the game. The fans broke into chants of “Blasters, Blasters” to supress the stadium speakers. Volunteers from the Kerala fan club also distributed chits carrying the lyrics of the fan anthem.