ISL 5: Jamshedpur FC leave it late against Mumbai City

JAMSHEDPUR: Jamshedpur FC boosted their chances of qualifying for the semi-finals with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Mumbai City FC at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Friday. The result takes the Miners just one point behind fourth-placed NorthEast United FC and sets up an interesting sprint to the finish in this season’s race to secure a play-off berth.

Both teams made a tentative start to the match, with most of the action restricted to the midfield. There were a few careful attack-minded moves scattered throughout the first 25 minutes, but both sides lacked the cutting edge in the final third and both goalkeepers remained relatively untested.

After the 25-minute mark, the match slowly started swaying towards Mumbai and the Islanders should have taken the lead right on the 30-minute mark. Rafael Bastos beat his man down the right flank and put in a brilliant cross in to find Paulo Machado at the far post. Machado rushed his attempt and failed to hit the target.

Jamshedpur almost brought about their own downfall minutes before the half-time whistle. Defender Pratik Chowdhary played a loose back pass, giving Mumbai’s top scorer Modou Sougou a sniff at goal. Jamshedpur custodian Subrata Paul did well to come out and clear the ball just before the striker could get to it.

The half ended goalless, with Mumbai looking the better of the two sides.

With rain pouring in at the JRD Tata Sports complex, the home team came out with renewed purpose and looked much more of the threat after the break. Mumbai, meanwhile, maintained their constant probes for counter-attacking opportunities. With both sides going for it and the pace of the match quickening due to the rain-soaked surface, it made for a much more entertaining affair with end-to-end action.

As the match wore on, Jamshedpur upped the ante and almost reaped the benefit. Lucian Goian was forced to try a dangerous acrobatic clearance to see off Pablo Morgado’s chip inside the box. The ball took an awkward deflection off the Romanian and went out for a corner after missing the post by inches.

Mumbai were pegged back in their own half as the Miners launched wave after wave of attacks, particularly down the right hand side. For Mumbai, the absence of Arnold Issoko was evident as they struggled to find a proper outlet to carry and hold the ball in the opposition half. With the Islanders defending in numbers, Sougou cut an isolated figure as the lone man forward for the Islanders.

The constant pressure finally paid off on the 80th minute. Sergio Cidoncha delivered a dangerous free kick inside the Mumbai box, prompting goalkeeper Amrinder Singh to come off his line to punch the ball away. The Mumbai custodian, however, failed to get enough power behind his punch and the ball fell to Memo just inside the edge of the box. With Amrinder off his line, the Spaniard placed his cushioned header into an empty net to give Jamshedpur a precious lead.

Mumbai tried to throw men forward in the final 10 minutes, but failed to find the equaliser.

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