Mumbai FC were resilient and managed to hold their free-scoring visitors to a stalemate in what was an uneventful I-League tie.Mumbai FC held league leaders Churchill Brothers to a 0-0 draw in an uneventful encounter at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Thursday.
The game was marred by Beto’s injury, which saw the Brazilian being whisked away in an ambulance. The hosts had the better of the chances in the game, but ND Opara in particular was wasteful against his former club.
Khalid Jamil gave Abhishek Yadav a start, while Haroon Amiri returned after serving his suspension, with Kamaljeet Kumar and Faizal Rehman relegated to the bench.
The away side meanwhile had to bring in Sanjay Balmuchu and Israil Gurung, with Tomba Singh and Bikramjit Singh unavailable.
While Churchill enjoyed more of the possession at the beginning, it was Yusif Yakubu who had the first chance of the game, as his shot just flashed wide of the post, after he was set-up by Gabriel Fernandes.
Evans Quao then tested Sandip Nandy with a dipping volley, after he was found by Nicholas Rodrigues. Nandy though parried the ball away. That proved to be the last piece of action that Quao saw in the game, as he injured himself while attempting the shot, and had to be substituted.
While the Goans continued to dominate possession, they failed to really find a way to test Luis Barreto in goal.
On the other end, substitute ND Opara had two more opportunities, one after another, but Sandip Nandy proved equal to them.
Eventually the referee blew the half-time whistle, with Churchill frustrated by the lack of cutting edge upfront.
The Red Machines suffered a set-back at the very beginning of the second half, as Beto had to be taken off as he injured his finger, which saw him being rushed to the hospital immediately.
Mumbai FC then enjoyed possession but to no avail as Bilal Najjarine kept foiling their attempts to take the lead.
Substitute Akram Moghrabi then had Churchill’s first real attempt at goal, as he turned and unleashed a powerful shot from outside the box, which Barreto did well to palm out for a corner.
Nandy did brilliantly by coming out bravely to get hold of the ball, just as Ashutosh Mehta was gearing up, to tap the ball home a few minutes later.
With both teams failing to put a few passes together, overall, the second half lacked any kind of spark. The away side in-particular missed their talismanic midfielder, Beto.
Mumbai FC then had a glorious chance to steal all 3 points, when Gabriel Fernandes found Opara. However the striker yet again failed to make it count against his former employers, missing the target, with the goal at his mercy.
With the game coming to a close, Mumbai FC piled on the pressure, but did not find a way past Nandy’s defenses, as he held on to a well hit Yakubu effort as well.
The draw sees Churchill move 5 points ahead of East Bengal on the table, while Mumbai FC stay 6th on the tally.
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