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ISL 2019-20: Mumbai City improve but still no match for marauding FC Goa

18:52 GMT 07/11/2019
Mumbai City vs FC Goa
The jury is still on Jorge Costa at Mumbai City...

When they come to Mumbai, you get to know well in advance. They as in FC Goa and Kerala Blasters, clubs who enjoy a disproportionately big support base in India's business capital. You can spot people in trains and streets in their club jerseys throughout the matchday, a noticeable aberration in a metropolis always in footballing slumber. 

Thursday was no different, and the away fans happened to be ones with the last laugh as FC Goa dished out another humiliation for Mumbai City FC, beating them 4-2 in their home turf. Mumbai have now become the favourite prey for the Gaurs, with the Islanders conceding at least four times in three of the last two seasons' encounters. 

To be honest, the hosts had an edge in the first 15 minutes. After conceding four goals in the last match, Jorge Costa had his defenders sitting deep, with fullbacks rarely foraying into the opponent channels in the early exchanges.

That, though, didn't earn them much relief, as Lenny Fernandes dispatched the ball into the net from within the box on the 27th minute before the talismanic Coro doubled the lead on the brink of the second half. 

So what went wrong? No, the usual suspects Pratik Chowdhury and Sarthak Golui were decent in central defence. The culprit, surprisingly, was left-back Subhasish Bose, who looked unsure about players running through his blind side and was to blame in varying degrees for at least three of the goals.

National team coach Igor Stimac is keenly following the ISL matches, hopping between venues and even to TV studios, so the defender's two horrid shows in the last eight days must have been noticed by him. 

In contrast, midfielder Raynier Fernandes had a game to remember. He often found spaces between the orange jerseys to send in defence-splitting passes but was left disappointed by the players upfront, who rarely linked up well enough to make the best use of his incisiveness. 

Still, Mumbai managed to get two goals back in quick succession just after half-time. The first saw Sarthak Golui leaping over a casual Mandar Desai at the second post to nod a corner home, while lack of coverage outside the box helped Souvik Chakrabarti pull off a belter from distance to draw the scores level. 

Goa were far from their best, looking a bit lethargic at times with transitions taking too long to release wingers into their usual free runs. But even then, they managed to regain the two-goal cushion with quite an ease. 

'Their attack was so strong that we faced a problem going forward. We will have to look at the match videos and find out where we are losing out. To me, it seemed like some silly mistakes piling up," Golui told Goal after the match. 

It was a weird match from another perspective. Mumbai's both goals and Goa's last one came from defenders while the visitors' all three other goals were set up by members of the backline. The 15 minute period after the break was breathtaking, with three goals being scored and a couple of clear-cut shots being blocked. 

Goa looked very dangerous in all the set-pieces, with Brandon Fernandes and Edu Bedia sending in sumptuous crosses into the six-yard box. Paolo Machado looked half-fit for Mumbai and with Jahouh and Lenny partnering well in the midfield, Goa retained possession for long intervals. 

Except for Jackichand Singh, Segio Lobera's Indian players were all superb, with Serinton Fernandes once again proving that his exclusion from the national team set-up remains the most baffling. Lenny had a hearty laugh when asked about whether they can do more to convince the national team coach and walked away with a diplomatic 'I don't want to comment on that' comment. 

Spare a thought for Souvik Chakrabarti also. The Mumbai defender not only netted the tie's best goal but also scored his first league goal in almost seven years, after 11,300 minutes of football spanning across 153 matches. "I think I had scored one for United Sports," he mildly countered after the stat was pointed out by Goal before swiftly remembering with a grin, 'no, it was in the Kolkata League.' 

But the jury is still out on Jorge Costa's coaching this season, after his initial failure to replicate last season's rock-solid defence line and possible weakening of the squad due to departures of Lucian Goian and Arnold Issoko. The squad left home for a five-day break and when they return, the coaching staff will have to quickly find a sustainable strategy to make do with this injury-prone contingent.