The Rouge et Or did not manage to get at least one point despite having surpassed the leaders of the league in the second half …
It’s not every day that Sergio Lobera’s side manage to enjoy just 40 percent possession and play fewer passes than their opponents, but Friday’s game was one of the few occasions when Mumbai City was not allowed to dictate terms by East Bengal, but the Islanders still managed to pick up three points from the tie.
Robbie Fowler is a coach who is not known for sticking to a particular style of play and deploying the same training every game. Against Mumbai City, the British coach aligned his team in 4-2-3-1 in order to keep control over the central third where the Islanders are extremely dangerous.
The tactic worked somewhat for East Bengal in the initial phase as neither Hugo Boumous nor Ahmed Jahouh were able to get much into the middle. But Mumbai instead tried to exploit the flanks and especially the left. East Bengal right-back Ankit Mukherjee struggled to keep Bipin Singh and Vignesh Dakshinamurthy at bay as both players constantly posed threats from his side.
The Rouge et Or kept possession of the ball in the first half and played passes between them but there was no penetration. There were too many square passes and back passes which meant Mumbai goalkeeper Amrinder Singh was not yet worried. In fact, the Kolkata club only had one chance to score goals during the entire first half.
The Islanders, on the other hand, could have finished the game in the first half. Besides Mourtada Fall’s goal, Mumbai on three occasions came very close to the score, especially Adam Le Fondre who failed to convert a header from a handshake distance.
Failure to score an insurance goal could have seriously injured the Islanders in the second half as East Bengal were a completely different team. Fowler made some changes by bringing in Rana Gharami and Mohammed Rafique. With Gharami, East Bengal chose to line up a three-way defense.
In the second half, East Bengal began to dictate proceedings, in a role reversal with Mumbai City. They controlled the game most of the time and exchanged passes at will and unlike in the first half they showed their intention from the start.
Mourtada Fall was without a doubt the star of the game who had a great outing against the Kolkata team. Their overall performance on the pitch got Mumbai out of the game with all points. Aside from scoring the most important goal in the first half, he remained strong in defense and calmly handled every East Bengal attack.
Sergio Lobera, after the game, admitted that his team’s presentation in the second half was not the performance he expected and even suggested that they were lucky not to drop any points.
“When you see the stats, we’ve lost possession of the ball and it’s difficult for us when we play that way. Obviously, we have to improve. We were lucky with the result in the second half because they played really well, ”said the Spaniard after the game.
It is true that the city of Mumbai was far from its usual best, but they have set the bar so high for themselves that even a decent performance seems below par. The positive (scary for the teams) of this game is that Mumbai, even on the rest days, has victories. That’s how effective the Islanders have been this season.
There are some positives for Robbie Fowler from this game as well. East Bengal appeared to be confident and it seems that the weight of expectations has been lifted from their shoulders. The only thing the great Liverpool have to work on now is the finish, as he has to be much more clinical in front of goal. If they can put together a winning round, a place for the play-offs will not be beyond the realm of possibilities.