A costly goalkeeping error determined the result as Mumbai City FC (MCFC) outwitted host North East United FC (NEUFC) by a solitary goal to gain to move to the top of the Indian Super League table, here at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Saturday. While NEUFC’s Brazilian goalkeeper Wellington Da Lima faltered in his job offering scope for the only goal of the match, which was scored by MCFC midfielder Jackichand Singh in the final minute of the first half, young Indian Albino Gomes was fantastic under the bar on the other end.
Gomes’ good work ensured the visitor preserve the lead and turn out the best traveller in the league picking up 11 points from six away matches and net 15 points from nine outings. NorthEast United remained on 10 points after suffered its straight third home loss.
The first half ended on a comical note with the visitor gaining from a costly faux pas committed by NEUFC’s Brazilian goalkeeper Wellington Da Lima. As the time for the interval drew close after an intense action, Nirmal Chettri sent a back-pass to Da Lima apparently looking to reset a move.
The Brazilian, who was preferred over injured Subrata Paul and T.P. Rehenesh in the match, instead of shooting the ball straight up tried to hold it and paid the price as the MCFC attacker Sony Norde rushed in and intercepted the ‘keeper knowing well the latter could not touch the ball by hand. As Da Lima muddled up Norde pushed the ball for an onrushing Jackichand to shoot it into an open goal.
The 45th minute goal nixed all the good work by the host, which had created two fine scoring opportunities. The first one in the 20th minute saw Japanese medio Katsumi Yusa essaying a beautiful final pass to find Holicharan Narzary unmarked inside the box. The lanky left-winger darted up the box just to put his effort on the side-netting.
The best came near the half-hour mark off a fine counter-attack. A long kick from the goal by Da Lima found striker Emiliano Alfaro yards off the Mumbai box. The Uruguayan managed to win the challenge of the opposition defender Lucian Goian and kept the ball for Yusa, who returned back with a nice cross. Alfaro tried a fine half-volley just to see Albino Gomes pulling up a brilliant save for Mumbai under the bar.
Mumbai had enjoyed a fine start that built on the creative play-making of Uruguayan star Diego Forlan. The best player of the 2010 World Cup galvanised the MCFC attacks with precision passes. Forlan’s sixth minute assist could have put the visitor ahead in the sixth minute but Jackichand put header over the bar. Next a couple of Forlan curlers on set-piece situations created crisis on the host’s goalmouth.
Albino Gomes came up as saviour for Mumbai once again in the 77th minute when he made a full stretch dive to his left to save a sharp header from NEUFC substitute Seityasen Singh. The second half was more about NEUFC, which regrouped well to mount some good attacks but found the finishing chronically ineffective for another match.
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