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Indian Super League

ISL 2018-19: Modou Sougou leading Mumbai City's march

9:59 AM SGT 23/2/19
Mumbai City
Modou Sougou was too hot to handle for an out-of-focus ATK defence...

Before Mumbai City's match against ATK, their top-scoring striker Modou Sougou had gone three games (244 minutes) without finding the net.

The last match he scored was the 6-1 thrashing of Kerala Blasters at home in December wherein he pumped in four remarkable goals. He fired blanks in three games and missed one game due to an injury. The Islanders managed just one win in those four games. 

Any ambitious team needs to have a top striker leading the line and in Modou Sougou, Mumbai City have exactly what they need going into the playoffs. On Friday, the Senegalese hitman was at his lethal best and notched a hat-trick, his second of the season, to put the game beyond ATK's reach and lead the Islanders into the playoffs.

ATK defence, which is usually organized and adept at containing attacks, struggled against the pace, off-the-ball movement and vision of Mumbai City's players. The hosts were outclassed in the attacking third, as Kalu Uche and Jayesh Rane failed to convert chances at one end and Sogou made finishing look like a piece of cake at the other. 

The 34-year-old is having his best season, with 12 goals to his name so far, equalling Bartholomew Ogbeche's tally in the race for the Golden Boot. However, it was far from a one-man-show in Kolkata against ATK. 

Paulo Machado, Pranjal Bhumij and Arnold Issoko all had excellent outings and grabbed an assist each. Lucian Goian and co. defended doggedly when required and kept Kalu Uche silent for most parts. 

ATK started well and with a desire to push forward in the attack. The approach was rather forced as ATK had to win the game to stay in the race for the playoffs. The team, which was so used to sitting back and hitting teams on the break, was forced to get off their deep block and take the opponents on and the players looked confused on how to go about it. 

With Manuel Lanzarote crocked, the onus was on Edu Garcia to pull the strings in midfield but he failed miserably. Steve Coppell revealed that the player was playing despite carrying an injury and it showed. Not only did the Spaniard failed to make an impact in the attacking third but he also lost the ball on countless occasions.

Ricky Lallawmawma and Pritam Kotal were at fault for the first goal. Paulo Machado snatched the ball off the former's feet and the latter failed to intercept the midfielder's pass forward. Pranjal Bhumij's delightful lob fell perfectly for Sougou and the striker scored his first goal. 

Edu Garcia's careless pass allowed Souvik Chakrabarti to release Arnold Issoko down the right flank and the winger's cross was Sougou was tapped home by the Senegalese striker in the centre. Andre Bikey and the rest of ATK's four-man backline were slow to react to Sougou's run in behind to latch onto Machado's through-ball and the striker made it 3-0. It was a no-show at the back for all the three goals and ATK were deservedly punished. 

The foreign players have undoubtedly been the standout performers for Mumbai City this season and are leading their march into the playoffs. The Indian players have also stood up and Jorge Costa will be hoping for more of the same in their final few fixtures of the Indian Super League