Unbeaten in 12 matches, Mumbai City FC rode on a brace of goals by Lallianzuala Chhangte to defeat Odisha FC 4-2 at the Kalinga Stadium here to go top of the table on Monday.
Chhangte scored twice and set up one goal as all six goals in the match came in the second half which resulted in Odisha FC falling to their first defeat at home.
The win puts Mumbai City FC in the first place, two points clear of defending champion Hyderabad FC, while Odisha FC’s third loss in four games means that Chennaiyin FC could come as close as two points to them in the 6th and final playoff place if they win their next game. They stay at home to host East Bengal FC on Sunday, while Mumbai City FC host Kerala Blasters at home on the same day.
Odisha began the game pressing high and inviting Mumbai City FC to try and attack the space behind their defence. In only the 2nd minute, this plan almost came undone as Bipin Singh found himself free on the right flank, drove towards the goal, and dragged his shot wide.
An open-ended first half followed, with Odisha FC matching the visitors for the most part. But 10 minutes after the half-time break, Chhangte managed to break the deadlock. Stewart missed a tap-in chance off Chhangte’s cross and Jorge Diaz had his shot saved by Amrinder Singh, before Chhangte’s slick one-two with Diaz in the 55th minute gave him a chance to finish the job himself.
Odisha FC’s equaliser in the 61st minute came through some top-drawer hold-up play by Mauricio, who received a long ball in midfield, skipped past a couple of defenders and created a path towards the goal. On that path, he found Victor Rodriguez and continued his run to pick up the midfielder’s backwards flick that split open the defence. Mauricio capped off the move that he started by slotting it past the goalkeeper.
From that moment on, though, the game tilted heavily towards the visitors. Ahmed Jahouh’s freekick in the 68th minute was saved by Amrinder Singh stretching to his right, but his pass fell into the path of Bipin who was behind the wall and put Mumbai City FC into the lead again with a first-time shot.
The closing blows on Odisha FC were applied by Chhangte and Alberto Noguera. First, the midfielder who had come on to replace Greg Stewart slid in a through ball behind Odisha FC’s very high defense to find Chhangte in the 79th minute. Goalkeeper Amrinder rushed out of his box to try and intercept it, but couldn’t get his challenge right. The ball bobbed up for Chhangte beside him and the winger passed it into an empty goal from outside the box. He then returned the favour to Noguera in the 85th minute, dribbling past defenders at the goal line before chipping it square for Noguera who was running in from midfield and put it away on the half-volley.
In the 91st minute, Mauricio added another bit of brilliance to his night, waiting on the edge of the box for an aerial duel to finish, and then thundering in a volley as the ball fell to him. Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau applauded the effort alongside the home fans, but Mumbai City FC’s efforts meant it was their first defeat at home this season.