MUMBAI: Four goals from striker Modou Sougou powered Mumbai City FC to a dominating 6-1 win over Kerala Blasters FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday. Sougou became the first player in the league’s history to score four goals in a single match.
The win helped the Islanders cut down Bengaluru FC’s lead at the top of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 table to just three points ahead of the winter break.
Arnold Issoko and Sougou have been the danger men for Mumbai throughout this season and the usual suspects almost combined again to good effect early in the match. With just 2 minutes on the clock, Issoko fizzed in one of his trademark low crosses from the right and Sougou was just inches away from getting the telling contact to drive it home.
On the 12th minute, however, an identical move from the opposite side resulted in the first goal. Paulo Machado was the provider from the left wing and, this time, Sougou found the contact he was looking for. It was the striker’s sixth goal of the season.
It took Sougou just three more minutes to make it seven. A poor clearance from Kerala goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh gave Mumbai’s no. 28 a shooting opportunity from the edge of the box and it was all he needed to make it 2-0 in the home team’s favour.
The early goals stunned Kerala and Issoko could have made it even worse for the visitors soon after. His attempted lobbed finish missed the target narrowly.
After the 20th minute, Kerala seemed to have recovered from the early shock and started creating their own chances. They even pulled a goal back on the 27th minute through Seiminlen Doungel. Some good work by Sahal Abdul Samad on the edge of the box created an opening for Kerala’s no. 9. He placed his shot perfectly past a diving Amrinder Singh on the half turn to make it 2-1.
The joy, however, lasted only for three minutes. Sougou timed his jump to perfection to head home a Subhasish Bose cross and restored Mumbai’s two-goal cushion. The hat-trick also made him Mumbai’s top scorer in any single Hero ISL season. He broke Sunil Chhetri’s record of 7 goals from the 2015 season.
Things got bad to worse for Kerala just before the half-time whistle after Zakeer Mundampara was sent off for a second bookable offence of the night.
With a two-goal deficit to overcome and a man down, David James’ men had a mountain to climb in the second-half.
After the restart, Kerala tried their best to attack with 10-men, while the hosts were content sitting back and waiting for counter attacking opportunities. Sougou came close to scoring his fourth of the night just before the hour mark. He rounded up Dheeraj but could only find the side netting.
Mumbai’s fourth goal, however, did come and it was a Rafael Bastos who registered himself on the score sheet on the 70th minute. The Brazilian’s bullet of a shot from range gave the Kerala goalkeeper no chance. Substitute Matias Mirabaje then got in on the action and made it 5-1 with a scorcher of his own just before regulation time ended.
Deep into stoppage time, Sougou hammered the final nail on Kerala’s coffin when he pounced on a defensive mistake to score the Islanders’ sixth.