Mohammedan Sporting ran out 1-0 winners over Mumbai FC thanks to a Josimar penalty in the first half...Mohammedan Sporting edged past Mumbai FC 1-0 in a round nine I-League clash at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata with a first half spot-kick by Josimar proving to be the difference between the two teams.
Aziz Ahmed Masood elected to drop Tolgay Ozbey to the bench and preferred to play Josimar as the lone striker upfront with Penn Orji deployed in a roving role behind in what looked like a 4-1-4-1 formation with Rakesh Masih shielding his defense.
Khalid Jamil elected to field all four of his Afghanistan contingent with Hashmatullah Barikzai and Sandjar Ahmadi leading the line, while Ahmad Hatifie playing the anchorman in midfield and Zohrab Amiri playing in central defense.
The match started off pretty slowly with both teams probing without anything close to breaking through. The away side could have however taken an unexpected lead in the second minute itself when Sandeep Sangha almost scored an own goal trying to clear Nicholas Rodrigues' freekick only for an alert Ashok Singh to tip it over.
Luciano Sobrosa almost opened the scoring at the other end just about five minutes later when an Israil Gurung corner found him unmarked at the far post but the towering Brazilian's header was instinctly saved by Nidhin Lal who clearly earned his stripes today in front of goal.
As the match progressed, the Black and Whites seemed to grow into the game and just ten minutes before the half hour mark, Penn Orji and Collin Abranches played a lovely one-two releasing Ajay Singh down the right. It was Nidhin Lal who was first on spot to grab the loose ball.
The Mumbai FC custodian followed this up with two back-to-back saves at the half hour mark. First it was a belter from Gagandeep Singh from outside the box which he tipped over and just a minute later he did the same with a speculative effort from Collin which seemed destined to find the top corner.
However it was in the 35th minute that Josimar gave Mohammedan the lead from the penalty spot. The architect was Penn Orji again whose lovely cross field through ball found Ajay Singh yet again unmarked down the right whose shot struck the arm of Ritesh Perambra. The referee had no hesitation and pointed to the spot. Josimar's penalty though not well struck rolled under the arms of Nidhin Lal.
Josimar could have doubled his tally three minutes from half time when Collin found him with a lovely through ball with only Zohrab Amiri to beat. The Brazilian did manage to turn his marker inside out but failed to get the shot out as Nidhin Lal came off his line to save the day.
Khalid Jamil must have had some harsh words for his players as Mumbai FC almost equalised two minutes after the break. Sandjar Ahmadi rattled the crossbar from close range with Ashok Singh not getting a hand to it.
In the 53rd minute, Josimar missed an opportunity to double his tally when Israil Gurung's inch perfect cross found him only for Anwar Ali to put a timely block in. On the counter Amiri went close to equalising when his piledriver from outside the box was held well by Ashok Singh.
Three minutes before the hour mark, it was Josimar again who wasted a chance after he was found out brilliantly by Ajay Singh whose cross dissected the two central defenders only for the last obstacle to be Anwar Ali again.
In the 63rd minute, Josimar was blatantly brought down just outside the box after Penn had played him through and Penn's ensuing freekick brought all kinds of trouble to the shaky Mumbai defense as Nidhin Lal only parried the effort but Josimar's overhead kick was woefully off target.
Mohammedan had two consecutive chances on the 72nd minute. First it was Anthony Soren who displayed great feet outside the box but was crowded out when he pulled the trigger and then it was a teasing cross delivered by the ever present Collin and Penn was just inches from putting his feet on that.
Substitute Branco Cardozo gave a good account of himself as his shot was well kept out by Ashok Singh. However the ensuing shot on the rebound by Anwar went over the bar.
Dane Pereira could have scored an own goal in his attempt to clear a cross from Tolgay in the injury time. The score line remained the same as the Kolkata outfit recorded their first victory on home soil.
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