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ISL 2022-23: East Bengal’s score maiden win over Mumbai City FC, sour their Shield party

Mumbai, Feb 19 (IANS) East Bengal FC handed Mumbai City FC a 1-0 loss in the league toppers’ final game of the preliminary stage in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday.

East Bengal’s win came shortly before Mumbai City were presented with the ISL League Shield, thus souring their celebrations.

Mahesh Singh scored the only goal of the match in the 52nd minute and the Kolkata giants then guarded their slender lead to nab their first-ever ISL win over the Islanders.

The defeat did not change much for Mumbai City as they remained at the top of the table with 46 points from 20 matches. On the other hand, East Bengal moved one place up in the standings to ninth among 11 teams with 19 points from 19 matches.

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham brought in a few new faces into the starting lineup, making four changes for the final league match. One of these players was Ayush Chhikara who was inches away from nodding the ball into the back of the net from a Bipin Singh cross from the left flank.

At the other end of the pitch, Cleiton Silva and Jake Jervis were constantly looking for an opening in the Mumbai City FC defence. One of the most promising opportunities came when Suhair VP’s cross from the right flank was headed back across goal by Silva before Jervis’ shot flew over the bar.

In the final minute of the first half, Rowlin Borges’ deflected effort came off the upright and that was the Islanders’ best attempt in the opening period.

Seven minutes into the second half, the visitors took the lead. Silva’s low ball from the right was left by Suhair, before Mahesh let it run onto his left foot and flashed it past Phurba Lachenpa.

Five minutes later, Chhangte was denied by a brilliant last-ditch diving block from Lalchungnunga. Just six minutes later, another chance came Mumbai City FC’s way when Halen Nongtdu’s acrobatic volley was headed for goal but kept out by Kamaljit.

In the final 15 minutes, Suhair had a couple of chances in quick succession but could not put the game to bed. The winger’s initial shot from the right side of the box was parried straight back into his path by Lachenpa, but his subsequent attempted lob lacked power. Five minutes later, the winger saw another shot from a difficult angle blocked by the keeper.

In the final five minutes, a ball came in from Chhangte on the left flank and flashed across the face of the goal with no one to apply the final touch.

The East Bengal defence faced a barrage of attacks in the closing stages but remained organised to keep their narrow lead intact till the end of the match. It was the first time this season that Mumbai City FC failed to score.