Mumbai, (IANS) Mumbai FC took a big step towards safety after they recorded a hard fought 2-1 win over 10-man East Bengal in their I-League encounter at the Cooperage here on Wednesday.
The win takes Mumbai FC to sixth in the standings with 21 points from 19 matches, three points above Goan giants Dempo and Salgaocar in the relegation battle. East Bengal, meanwhile, are fourth with 26 points.
Mumbai began with intent and won a free-kick at the edge of the box in the second minute after Taisuke Matsugae was brought down by Sukhwinder Singh. Paresh Shivalkar’s curling right-footer found the top corner, giving goalkeeper Abhijeet Mondal no chance to pull off a save.
East Bengal coach Eelco Schattorie said it was a “stupid” goal to concede.
“We had decided who will be in the wall during set pieces, the tallest player had to be there. It was written on the board in the dressing room. But I saw a completely different wall on the field. The players were indisciplined and that cost us,” he said.
Buoyed by the early goal, Khalid Jamil’s side continued being offensive. They doubled their lead in the 14th minute after Climax Lawrence played a beautiful through ball that fell in the path of Josimar da Silva.
The Brazilian beat the offside trap and slotted it past an onrushing Mondal. Mumbai could have tripled their lead but Taisuke’s header (24th minute) hit the cross bar.
Schattorie introduced Leo Bertos for Sukhwinder and East Bengal started to take control of the midfield. They dominated possession and got the breakthrough (42nd) when Ranti Martins scored off a Bertos assist.
Mumbai paid the price for being too defensive and Jamil changed the tactics in the second half, ordering his players to play more counterattacking football.
East Bengal tried but couldn’t breach the Mumbai defence, with Chika Wali holding the back line well.
Bertos picked up two yellow cards in the second half to reduce the visitors to 10 men. Mohammad Rafi, who was named player of the match, had an opportunity to seal the tie late in the half but his stinging shot from close range was marvellously saved by Mondal.
Jamil was happy with the win but insisted his side still isn’t safe.
“It is an important result for us. Our target was to win the match and after scoring two early goals, we defended very well. It is a good win but we still cannot relax. We have to aim for a victory in our last match against Bharat FC too,” he said.