Mumbai City FC manager Sergio Lobera admitted ahead of the start of the season that the team should quickly soak up their brand of attacking football, while also winning matches. They did the first track well, but not quite the other.
Equally new NorthEast Untied FC (NEUFC), led by Gerard Nus, who at 35 is the youngest coach in ISL history, beat Mumbai City 1-0 at Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, Goa. , the Saturday.
Two key referee calls from either side of the half defined the result. The first was a straight red card – ISL 7’s first – to Mumbai City’s top first-half player Ahmed Jahouh. The Moroccan was sent off by referee R Venkatesh after an unnecessary tackle from behind on the right ankle of NEUFC’s Khassa Camara in the 43rd minute.
As Mumbai struggled to cope with the loss of its creative hub, NEUFC realized they had a chance. With the power play and their defense holding on, NEUFC knew an opening was all they needed. They had it four minutes after the start of the second half thanks to a handball.
Australian Dylan Fox met a cross from the left with a diving header aimed at the center of the box. The ball grazed the left hand of Rowllin Borges of Mumbai City and Venkatesh awarded the penalty. Ghanaian Kwesi Appiah calmly placed him to the left of goalkeeper Amrinder Singh to give NEUFC the initiative against the run of the game.
It was enough to deal a heavy blow to Mumbai City, who had been making every move so far – they had more than double the assists (306 vs. 127 from NEUFC) and almost twice the possession (65% vs. 35 from NEUFC) in the first. half. But if Mumbai City, for all the big names on the list, could not get a shot on goal, it is also because under pressure, NEUFC managed to keep its form.