It is nearly curtains for Mumbai City FC from the inaugural Hero Indian Super League after they succumbed to a superb display by FC Pune City in which the hosts were helped by a brace from the Nigerian striker Dudu Omagbemi, who scored in the 66th and 80th minutes.
With their victory, FC Pune City has displaced Kerala Blasters from the fourth spot in the league’s points table. Pune dominated the game from start to finish and emerged a worthy 2-0 winner against a colorless Mumbai in the 48th match of ISL on Wednesday at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Pune. The convincing victory was also a sweet revenge for Pune, who had suffered a 5-0 drubbing by Mumbai in the 6th match of ISL on October 18 at Mumbai’s home ground at Navi Mumbai. Pune now have two games remaining in the league; one at home against Delhi Dynamos on December 6 and an away game against Kerala Blasters at Kochi on December 9. If they can manage to win both, they will reach the semifinals. Mumbai, on the other hand, can at best collect 18 points even if they win both their remaining league games against Atletico de Kolkata at home on December 7 and NorthEast United at Guwahati on December 10 but that may not be enough for Mumbai.
The match began on a frenetic pace with the home side leading the charge from the word go. Dudu was in a menacing form as he tried to strike immediately past Mumbai’s goalkeeper Subrata Paul but Paul help up nicely to the pressure as he saved several goal-bound shots by Pune strikers. But for Paul’s good work, Pune would have taken the lead in the early stages itself. Mumbai had made four changes by bringing in Johann Letzelter, Peter Costa, Asif Kottayil and Abhishek Yadav for Jan Stohanzl, Lalrindika Ralte, Freddie Ljungberg and Subhash Singh. Pune rested Davide Colomba and Park Kwang-Il came in his place for the starting line-up. After Dudu’s attempt was foiled by Subrata Paul, Lenny had another chance with a red hot strike and with Subrata Paul spilling the ball, Dudu scored from the rebound. However, the Nigerian was ruled offside. Dudu and Park Kwang-Il combined superbly and kept the Mumbai custodian busy. Mumbai also had a scoring chance in the 7th minute, when a curling corner kick was headed wide by Friedrich. For Pune, Park Kwang-Il played a lively game and on one occasion, he slipped his marker and entered the box. His scorching shot to the goal could only be half cleared by Subrata Paul and the ball fell in the path of Jermaine Pennant. But the straightforward chance was wasted by Pennant by hitting the ball wide. In the 14th minute, Dudu also slipped his marker and struck a left-footed volley but the alert Mumbai goalkeeper parried the ball away. In the 20th minute, Park sent a clean pass to Kosta Katsouranis but the Greek midfielder’s curling right footer was too wide off the mark. The best chance of the first half came a minute later, when Park had a long ball in his possession and he was helped by awful defending by Mumbai. With just the goalkeeper to beat, Park was guilty of spraying the shot too wide off the target. Mumbai too came close to scoring in the 42nd minute from a nicely taken corner but Friedrich and Yadav collided and Yadav’s attempt missed the top corner.
After the goalless first half, Mumbai earned a penalty in the 51st minute, when Pune’s Kotal handled the ball in the box. But the luckless Mumbai spilled the certain chance as Ribeiro’s strike landed straight into the hands of Pune goalkeeper. Two minutes later, Pune launched a counter-offensive with Dudu chesting the ball to Krisztian Vadocz, who scored from a rebound after his first strike was blocked by Subrata Paul. But the referee thought that the Hungarian had handled the ball. Moments later, Pennant was obstructed wrongly by a Mumbai defender but the ensuing free-kick from outside the Mumbai box taken by Park was brilliantly save by Subrata Paul. Pune went into the lead in the 66th minute, when Dudu received a superb cross from Kostas. The Nigerian first chested the ball and then fired it past the Mumbai goalkeeper. A little while later, Park was in a perfect position to hit into the goal from a cross but Subrata Paul denied him by another save. Then Paul made a spectacular save, when he fisted away Dudu’s close range shot, moments later. Pune doubled their lead in the 80th minute as Dudu was on target once again. The Nigerian got a ball cleared by Cmovs after Katsouranis shot from the middle of the box and he made no mistake with the shot. In three minutes of added injury time, Dudu had a chance of a hat-trick but his header off a free-kick went straight to Subrata Paul.