Jeje Lalpekhlua's goal just at the stroke of half-time gave his side the lead, but Mumbai FC got a well deserved equalizer in the 86th minute through Anwar Ali...
Mumbai FC came from behind to hold Dempo SC to a 1-1 draw in an I-League encounter at the Balewadi stadium in Pune.
Jeje Lalpekhlua’s headed effort just before half-time was cancelled out by an 86th minute Anwar Ali goal, ensuring Mumbai FC drew their second match on the trot.
Mumbai FC were still without Sandjar Ahmadi, who came too late to be named in the squad for the tie, meaning that Orok Essien started as the lone man upfront, supported by Ashutosh Mehta.
Dempo SC meanwhile made two changes, as Godwin Franco and Jeje Lalpekhlua were named in the starting eleven, in the place of Mandar Desai and Peter Carvalho.
The away side, as expected, started to dominate possession from the off, but it was Khalid Jamil’s side that came closest to a goal in the initial proceedings, with some good build-up play seeing Nicholas Rodrigues play in Climax Lawrence, whose shot was deflected over.
The Goans then asserted their dominance, but they could not really make it count, as they seemed to lack teeth upfront, with Billy Mehmet being a disappointment. The former West Ham academy player failed to hold-up play, and his movement was not good enough either.
They were restricted to hopeful efforts from far, with Beto and Jewel Raja taking shots which hardly troubled the goalkeeper, who also did well to grab a dangerous delivery into the box by Clifford Miranda.
Amiri on the other hand, went on a mazy run down the left wing, and almost forced his way clear on goal, only to be stopped by a last gasp Simon Colosimo tackle.
Nicholas too had a shot from distance, but failed to test Roy Chowdhury. Clifford Miranda then got to the end of a Mehmet flick-on, but he blazed his shot well over.
Jeje Lalpekhlua then, put Dempo ahead with basically the last bit of action from the game, as he headed home Clifford Miranda’s corner, to ensure his side went into the break in the lead.
Mumbai FC made a tactical switch in the second half, as Amiri moved to play as a centre-forward alongside Essien.
It was Dempo though, who should have doubled their lead, when Jewel Raja put Mehmet clean through, but the striker’s effort was well saved by Kunal Sawant.
Amiri on the other hand was proving to be a tricky customer for Honda and Colosimo, and after one tricky run, set-up Essien. The forward though, dithered in possession but the ball fell to Amiri, whose angled effort went over the bar.
The Afghanistan captain then failed to put enough power on his header, when a long throw by Valeriano Rebello reached towards him. His header was on target, but easily saved by the keeper.
Mumbai FC then kept pushing forward in the hunt for an equalizer, but with Essien being as ineffective as Mehmet was for Dempo, it was left to Amiri to try and engineer a comeback.
The Afghani almost did so, as his relentless running helped set-up Dane Pereira for a cross, which was missed by Climax, but reached Essien, whose shot was blocked by Honda.
At the other end, a rare foray by Dempo saw Colosimo head towards Mehmet, who was once more caught on his heels, allowing Mumbai FC to clear for a corner. The subsequent set-piece fell towards Godwin Franco at the edge of the box, and his powerfully hit shot was grabbed by Sawant on the second attempt.
Immediately afterwards, Amiri yet again proved to be Mumbai’s dangerman, as he threaded through a fantastic ball for Jayesh Rane, who lost his composure and his tame shot was easily saved by the goalkeeper.
Mumbai FC then finally equalized in the 86th minute, when Anwar Ali got to the end of a fabulously curled corner by Nicholas Rodrigues, in almost an identical fashion to Jeje’s opener for Dempo. There was a bit of fortune to the way the hosts got the corner, as Roy Chowdhury let the ball go out of play, thinking it is a goal-kick, and did not notice the touch by his player.
This forced Dempo to finally come out of their shell and look for a winner, but this effort came a little too late in the day, with Mumbai FC comfortably holding on for a draw.