Mumbai City overcame a tough challenge from SC East Bengal, wining 1-0 at the Tilak Maidan on Friday. With this win, Mumbai have equaled Bengaluru FC's ISL record of 11 matches unbeaten..
It was a match of contrasting halves. Mumbai spurned a number of chances in the first 45 minutes but managed to take the lead through Mourtada Fall (27'). A rejuvenated SCEB came out firing in their search for an equaliser in the second half, but could not manage one.
Mumbai had a chance as early as the third minute when Adam Le Fondre found himself in a position to shoot after receiving the ball from Cy Goddard but his attempt went wide. They should have taken the lead in the 14th minute when Goddard again turned supplier to Hugo Boumous courtesy of some sloppy keeping by Debjit Majumder, but Boumous blazed his shot over the bar.
SCEB were beginning to fashion chances of their own - Jacques Maghoma had an attempt go just wide - but that's when Mumbai finally broke through in the 27th minute. A freekick was whipped into the box and headed clear. Boumous sent it right back and it found an inexplicably unmarked Mourtada Fall, who made no mistake with his free header from close range.
Mumbai had a glorious chance to double their lead at the end of the first half. Bipin Singh swung in a delicious ball into the box, but Le Fondre headed wide from close in with just the keeper to beat.
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Fall had a chance to get his second soon after the restart but failed to make the most of it. A chip from Ahmed Jahouh saw him with a clear shot on goal, but his attempt was straight into Majumder's hands.
SCEB coach Robbie Fowler brought on Bright Enobakhare around the hour-mark and that changed the game completely. They went close to getting the equaliser in the 64th minute when Daniel Fox headed inches wide from a Bright corner.
Fowler's team piled on the pressure in the final quarter of the game and there were times when Mumbai struggled to get the ball out of their own half. Bright was a problem figure for Mumbai, winning fouls and threading lovely balls through the tight rearguard.
Perhaps the best chance for the Kolkata side came with just minutes left on the clock when substitute Aaron Holloway floated in a beautiful cross to find Harmanpreet Singh at the far post. The forward, though, sent his header over.
The result means that Mumbai City have reopened their five-point advantage over ATK Mohun Bagan at the top of the table, with 29 points in 12 games. They face Chennaiyin next on the 25th . East Bengal remain rooted in tenth, with 12 points in 13 games. They face FC Goa next on the 29th.