Sehnaj Singh was lucky to stay on the field against East Bengal. He is a tenacious defensive midfielder who Alexandre Guimaraes has picked in his first team for most of the season. But he can also be a red card waiting to happen.
On Thursday, the 24-year-old midfielder failed to keep his aggression in check. It's effective to have a warrior in midfield but losing control of the area you are expected to conquer will severely handicap the team you are playing for. A high boot on Katsumi Yusa as early as the ninth minute rang the alarm bells and despite going into the referee's book, he was involved in a late challenge on Yusa again just three minutes later.
Fairly enough, the referee gave him a verbal warning but at the half-hour mark, the mischievous aggressor brought down Al-Amna in the middle of the pitch and the referee inexplicably refused to produce a second yellow card.
Ahead of Sehnaj Singh in midfield was Cameroonian midfielder Achille Emana who was the rare bright spark for the Islanders in their forays forward against East Bengal throughout the game. It was his stunning long-range free-kick, one that was beautifully delivered into the top corner, that broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute. That turned out to be the only moment in the game that had the noise levels in check inside the Kalinga Stadium.
Bhubaneswar was draped in colours of red and gold and it seemed to have a profound effect on Khalid Jamil's team. Add to it the hotly contested debate of ISL vs I-League and we had a clear winner in the Super Cup pre-quarter clash.
It almost seemed cruel that such a brilliant free-kick did not affect the opposition. Instead, the cheers grew louder and it acted as a rallying call for the Red and Golds. Just four minutes after the opener, Katsumi Yusa sneaked into the box to head in a pinpoint Laldanmawia Ralte cross from the right.
Despite having a leader like Lucian Goian at the back, Mumbai City conceded 29 goals in their ISL season (third-worst) because his partners were inconsistent. And it was the same case once again. Raju Gaikwad has been prone to blunders, Davinder Singh is playing his first full season at the top level, Aiborlong Khongjee was making a return from injury and Alexandre Guimaraes has to switch between Abinash Ruidas and Sahil Tavora at left-back.
Sahil Tavora was caught up the field and Calvin Lobo's exquisite long pass found Ralte in space. His shot was saved by Amrinder at the near post but Mahmoud Al-Amna converted the rebound to complete a deserving comeback in the 73rd minute.
Achille Emana's influence in Mumbai City's attack was impressive but with just two foreign players availed by the club for the Super Cup, there lacked firepower up front and that prevented Guimaraes' men from having any say even when East Bengal happily sat back to counter in for large periods of the second half.