An Esmael Goncalves penalty earned Chennaiyin FC a crucial point in a 1-1 draw against Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) leader Mumbai City FC at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Monday.
With the stalemate, Mumbai City FC extended its unbeaten record to 12 matches and went six points clear at the top of the standings with 30 points from 13 games. Chennaiyin moved to fifth with 16 points from 14.
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Chennaiyin head coach Csaba Laszlo promised a change in approach and his side came out attacking from the get-go. The side pressed Mumbai high up the pitch and managed to nick possession in its own half. Lallianzuala Chhangte and Esmael Goncalves drew saves from Amrinder Singh, while Eli Sabia headed over from a corner inside the first 15 minutes.
Mumbai took the lead, against the run of play, through Bartholomew Ogbeche in the 21st minute. Having only managed to clear a throw-in to Rowllin Borges outside the Chennaiyin box, Mumbai recycled the ball to the left before Bipin Singh swung in a cross into the six-yard box. Ogbeche, who was unmarked in the area, snuck behind Sabia to power home a header into the top corner.
Chennaiyin finished the half strong by exploiting space down the left side of Mumbai’s defence. Mourtada Fall needed to make a couple of crucial interceptions from Thoi Singh’s crosses to deny Chennaiyin the opportunity to equalise.
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Mumbai started the second period with better control through central midfielders Borges and Ahmed Jahouh but a lackadaisical approach from the latter at the back led to a penalty. From a short goal-kick, Jahouh was dispossessed by Jakub Sylvestr before having his leg clipped by the Moroccan. Goncalves stepped up to smash in the spot-kick with 14 minutes left on the clock.
Right after the goal, Mumbai right-back Amey Ranawade made a vital block off Reagan Singh’s cross with two Chennaiyin forwards in promising positions inside the box.
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Sergio Lobera made four changes at one go to push for the lead, including bringing on Adam le Fondre, who scored the winner in the reverse fixture last month. The Englishman came close when he struck from distance but it was straight at Vishal Kaith, who made the save.