Achille Emana (15') opened the scoring but the visitors took the lead in the first half courtesy goals from Gursimrat Singh Gill (24') and Sambinha (43'). Everton Santos (54') equalised in the second half before Lucian Goian (90+1') won the match for the Islanders in injury time.
Mumbai City were strengthened with the return of skipper Lucian Goian to the defense as Gerson Vieira was benched. As for the visiting side, Reagan Singh and Danilo Lopez were replaced by Sambinha and John Mosquera.
The first real chance of the match came in the eighth minute for the hosts when Rafa Jorda was fed the ball inside the box by Sanju Pradhan. The striker’s first-time shot went haywire but the loose delivery was connected by Everton Santos; however, Rehenesh TP blocked the effort through his legs.
It didn’t take too long for Goian and co. to get themselves the lead as the home side found the net in the 15th minute. Charging from the centre of the park, Brazilian attacker Santos found Achille Emana with a through ball on the left. Unmarked, Emana positioned himself perfectly outside the 18-yard-box to release a bullet strike in between the duo of Gursimrat Gill and Rowllin Borges and beyond the reach of Rehenesh TP in goal.
Against the run of play, NorthEast United equalized in the 24th minute as Gursimrat Gill redeemed the visitors. Maic Sema started the build-up from the left as he squared the ball for the Punjab-born defender; the latter’s effort from a distance travelled into the net before it deflected off skipper Goian to get the better of goalkeeper Amrinder Singh.
At the half hour mark, the Highlanders’ shot-stopper Rehenesh pulled off a belter of a save when 31-year-old Everton released a power-packed shot from 20 yards out, following a pass from playmaker Emana.
Three minutes before the halftime whistle, Mumbai City’s defense fell prey to Avram Grant’s boys as they conceded from set play. Lalrindika Ralte stood up for the corner and his delivery was headed towards the goal by a diving Sambinha to get his side in the lead before the break.
Nine minutes into the second half, Mumbai bounced back as stalwart Everton netted the equalizer. Sehnaj Singh sent a long ball into the box which was headed down by striker Jorda into the path of Everton who registered his fifth goal of the season.
In the 65th minute, goalscorer Everton had the golden chance to pull off the third goal of the night for the Mumbaikars when he paired up with the lethal Emana. However, the Brazilian took a tumble inside the box and his effort too went wide.
Eight minutes later, from the middle, Pradhan picked out Pranjal Bhumij on the right side of the box with a peach of a through ball but the youngster couldn’t finish it off.
Putting every bit of effort charging forward, Mumbai gave their all to bring up the third goal and it finally came in added time. Raju Gaikwad sent a curling ball which sailed straight into the heart of the NorthEast United box and saw skipper Goian slide it into the net as the Islanders grabbed the winning goal at death.
The 3-2 result kept them alive in the race for the playoffs; they face Delhi Dynamos in their next fixture.