As Mumbai City FC players get ready for an away-game against Delhi Dynamos on Friday November 6, the disappointment of their 1-4 home loss to Atletico de Kolkata last Sunday would be still fresh in their minds. Mumbai’s drubbing by ATK has hurt the team more because it came soon after three consecutive home victories against arguably the best teams this season. From the bottom of the points’ table, Mumbai had bounced to the second spot after beating Delhi Dynamos and FC Goa with an identical 2-0 margin before scoring a stunning 5-1 win against North-East United FC. But after the debacle against ATK, Mumbai is down to number 6. On the other hand, FC Goa are back to the top spot with 14 points from 8 matches. On Thursday, Goa avenged their earlier loss against Chennaiyin FC and scored a 2-0 away-game victory at Chennai with both goals coming from penalties in the second half. Just behind Goa in the points’ tally are FC Pune City and Delhi Dynamos.
In a space of one week from October 21 to 28, Mumbai City FC had a rocking time as they defeated Delhi, Goa and NEUFC in home games to take the second place in the league table. On November 1, however, Mumbai were thrashed 4-1 in their fourth home game by Atletico de Kolkata, thanks to a hat-trick by Iain Hume. It was surprising since Mumbai dominated play for the better part of the first half. With marquee player-cum-coach Nicolas Anelka making his maiden appearance of the season and creating several opportunities, Mumbai could have taken the lead in the 33rd minute but Frantz Bertin’s header narrowly missed the target. Next minute however, ATK’s Hume scored first of his three goals, when he latched onto an accurate cross fed to him by Jaime Gavilan. Hume got his second goal in the added time of the first half, when Mumbai’s Singam Subhash Singh brought down Hume, who scored from the ensuing penalty. Both teams played evenly in the second half and Mumbai looked like reducing the deficit in the 61st minute but Frederic Piquionne’s brilliant strike was deflected by the ATK goalkeeper Amrinder. Mumbai, however, cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 71st minute, when their Tunisian recruit Selim Benachour pulled one back. In the 77th minute, however Kolkata made it 3-1 through Augustin Fernandes and 5 minutes later Hume completed the hat-trick and ATK finished their Mumbai visit on a happy note.
While ATK’s 3 points after beating Mumbai took them to 4th place behind Delhi Dynamos, FC Goa bounced back to top spot after beating Chennaiyin FC 2-0 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai. In Thursday’s match played in front of nearly 25000 Chennai fans, the home team had better chances in the first half and came close to scoring in 36th minute. A corner had fallen perfectly for Mendoza but the Colombian surprisingly shot wide. After the goalless first half, the two teams fought hard in the second. Goa enhanced their ball-possession percentage with Leo Moura and Jonatan Lucca imposing their presence in the midfield. In the 64th minute, Bernard Mendy deliberately brought down FC Goa’s Rafael Coelho in the box and the referee ordered a penalty. Moura made no mistake with conversion and Goa took a 1-0 lead. While Chennai continued their forays into the Goa half, their efforts were nullified by another penalty award against them in 78th minute. This time it was Wadoo, who handled the ball and Lucca’s spot kick made it 2-0 for Goa. Despite Chennai’s best efforts in closing stages, they couldn’t reduce the defeat margin. With 2-0 win in the end, FC Goa returned to head the points’ table while Chennai slipped to the 5th place.
The 2015 Hero Indian Super League has now crossed the halfway stage with each team having played at least 7 out of 14 matches. Four of them have had 8 games as well. Though FC Goa are the table toppers at this point, the field is still wide open. Any team can win since each victory yields three points as per the ISL playing format. Last year’s runner-up Kerala Blasters have yielded the worst performance with just 2 wins out of their 8 matches. They lie at the bottom but they still have six games left. North East United are at 7th spot with 2 wins from 7 matches. Among the remaining six teams, apart from Goa, Pune and Delhi, who have 4 wins each, every other team has scored three victories. The second half of the League, therefore, hold interesting possibilities as the teams will attempt to consolidate themselves. Mumbai could improve their standing if they beat Delhi on Friday. After that, Mumbai have a home game against Pune on November 13.
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