Deshorn Brown’s first-half brace powered NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) to a 2-1 win over Mumbai City (MCFC) and helped complete a double over the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21) leader at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Saturday.
Substitute Adam le Fondre struck a late goal but Mumbai needed to avoid defeat to break FC Goa’s 12-game unbeaten run AND was undone by NEUFC’s blitz in the opening ten minutes. Interestingly, it was NorthEast which last beat Mumbai City in the league in November last year.
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NEUFC has now won three successive games since Khalid Jamil took over after having gone without a win in seven. Wins over Jamshedpur FC, ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City has lifted NEUFC to fourth from seventh.
On-loan signing Brown displayed his striker’s instinct to pounce on the early chances. In the sixth minute, right-back Nim Dorjee swung in an inviting cross to the back post, where an unmarked Brown smashed in a volley past Amrinder Singh. Three minutes later, Brown doubled the lead when he fired into the roof of the net from close range after the ball ricocheted off Luis Machado’s thigh from a corner kick.
Brown had the chance to complete his hat-trick inside 20 minutes but he miscued his shot after being set up by a superb cross from the left by Provat Lakra.
Mumbai City controlled possession but only hit its stride in attack after the first water break at the 30-minute mark. Bartholomew Ogbeche brought down an Ahmed Jahouh cross inside the box but NEUFC centre-back Mashoor Shereef crucially struck a foot out to block the striker’s shot with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Five minutes before the break, NEUFC 'keeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury dived to push out Jahouh’s side-footed effort from distance before Lakra’s sliding tackle denied Jackichand Singh from close range.
In the second half, Mumbai brought on reinforcements in the form of forward le Fondre and winger Cy Goddard. Sergio Lobera also took off three of his four starting defenders from the backline.
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Despite the changes, Lobera’s men struggled to find space to run into behind the defence and had to resort to crosses, which were cleared out heroically by NEUFC defenders. Le Fondre’s inspired volley from a half-chance ended his five-game goal drought and provided Mumbai a lifeline.
The Islanders came close in stoppage time when Mehtab Singh’s header from close range appeared to be heading in before Roy tipped it over with a finger-tip save to see out the win.