After a 1-0 win over Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (Air Force Club) from Iraq in their final group stage encounter at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Mumbai City FC finished second in their AFC Champions League group.
Although placing second, the Islanders were unable to advance to the next round since they did not place among the top three second-placed teams in their respective western area groups. Mumbai, on the other hand, won two games to end with seven points in the AFC Champions League, a record for an Indian team in Asia’s premier club competition.
Mumbai City FC and Air Force Club
The difference between the two teams was Diego Mauricio’s goal in the 31st minute, as Mumbai City FC defended well against Air Force Club to finish the season on a high note. Mumbai City FC came into the encounter with an optimistic attitude after defeating the Iraqi side in the reverse fixture.
The Iraqi team, on the other hand, got off to a fast start, and Mumbai City FC goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa was called into action in the sixth minute, making a finger-tip save to keep the Iraqi side from taking the lead.
After being given a through ball by Vikram Partap Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte forced a stop from Air Force Club goalkeeper Mohammed Mejbel three minutes later. As Lachenpa remained watchful in the Islanders goal, Air Force Club continued to be in the advantage and wasted a couple of half-chances.
However, Air Force Club were dealt a sucker punch shortly after the half-hour mark when Brad Inman’s shot at the end of a counter-attacking move was fumbled by Mejbel, allowing Mauricio to tap home and give Mumbai City FC the lead. The Islanders were able to frustrate the Iraqi team and take a lead into halftime.
During the Second Half
Air Force Club came out firing in the second half. Substitute Hammadi Ahmad, who came on in the second half to replace Abdul Kadhim, was denied by a brilliant stop from Lachenpa, who continued to shine in goal for Mumbai City FC.
Mourtada Fall and Mehtab Singh produced goal-saving blocks beyond the hour mark to help Mumbai City FC fend off Air Force Club onslaught.
Lachenpa finished off another great performance with a stunning save low down to his right in the closing minutes of the game. Mumbai City FC held on for their second victory of the tournament, finishing in second place with a tournament-high seven points.