Airtel I-League leaders Bengaluru FC could not brush aside their Federation Cup disappointment completely as they failed to garner all three points against a resolute Mumbai FC in the Round 18 encounter of the Airtel I-League here at the Bangalore Football Stadium Sunday (February 23, 2014).
A barren first half led to an entertaining second which saw two good goals and a hatful spurned. India International Robin Singh cancelled out Mumbai FC’s Nigerian midfielder Ebi Sukore’s opener.
Robin hit the bar early on and missed a sitter while Bengaluru FC’s Australian striker Sean Rooney missed an open net.
Courtesy the result, Mumbai FC remain in tenth position with 18 points from 16 matches while Bengaluru FC barely sit atop with 31 in their kitty from 16 outings.
The Airtel I-League leaders started the game brightly with India International Robin Singh denied by the woodwork in only the 2nd minute of the match. But the JSW owned outfit failed to hold on to the momentum.
Though enjoying the lion’s share of the possession, the blue and white shirts could not create any goalmouth opportunity. Mumbai FC on the other hand struggled to mount any serious threat.
Of the little that the visitors could muster, former Indian International Mohammed Rafi’s 20-yard effort forced a good save from Bengaluru custodian Pawan Kumar and Nigerian International Yusif Yakubu let loose a meek effort that lost steam on its way towards goal.
The best chance of the match though fell to Rooney three minutes into the half hour mark.
Right winger Beikhokhei found Robin twice inside the box with the latter managing to pick out Rooney on his second attempt. With only the goalkeeper to beat from close, the Australian striker shot straight at Mumbai keeper Kunal Sawant.
The hosts looked sharp at the end of the first half. Robin headed wide from a diagonal angle off left-back Keegan Pereira’s cross and then failed to meet Sean Rooney’s floater after the Aussie was set up by Thoi Singh on the edge of the box.
Much to the dissapointemt of the home crowd, Mumbai FC took the lead two minutes into the second half.
Yakubu and Rafi combined well in midfield with Rafi setting up Sukore who did very well inside the box dribbling past Bengaluru centre-back Curtis Osano to prod home.
Bengaluru FC tried to equalise almost immediately. Rooney unleashed a long-ranger which came off the rebound to Thoi whose shot lacked zip. At the other end, Sukore almost scored again with a swiping volley that whizzed over.
But it were the League leaders who drew level in the 55th minute. Beikhokhei’s chipped cross from the byline found an unmarked Robin inside the box with the tall striker from Delhi making no mistake in heading the ball into the back of the net.
Bengaluru could have taken the lead one minute into the hour mark had Rooney not fluffed in front of a gaping goal from Beikhokhei’s rebound.
Mumbai FC Coach Khalid Jamil’s move of bringing in Alfred Jaryan for NP Pradeep in the 63rd minute almost paid dividends moments after the former’s introduction. Jaryan and Yakubu combined well on the edge of the box but Jaryan’s final shot went inches wide.
Robin missed a sitter at the other end with the keeper intercepting after Rooney had set him up beautifully inside the six yards box.