ISL 2020-21 Highlights, SC East Bengal vs Mumbai City FC: League-leaders Mumbai City FC registered their ninth win of the season as they scrape past a valiant SC East Bengal courtesy Mourtada Fall's first-half goal. With this win, they regain their 5-point gap over second-placed ATK Mohun Bagan. After 12 games, MCFC have 29 points while ATKMB have 24.
The Islanders have to thanks their defensive wall Mourtada Fall and SCEB's bad luck in front of goal for their win. For the first time this season, any team beat league leaders in terms of ball possession throughout the game. The first half was evenly contested more or less, SC East Bengal dominated the second half. They looked like a different beast than the team which conceded three goals in their previous encounter. They created chances, they kept the MCFC defence on their toes and could have scored at least two goals, however, they were not clinical enough throughout the match.
This result means MCFC's unbeaten streak stretches to 11 games while SCEB's unbeaten streak ends.
SC East have started the second-half in a bright way, they are creating more chances and surprisingly are seeing more of the ball. It's not that MCFC have taken a backseat in the match, they too are creating chances and came very close to increase their lead. SC East Bengal, however, came the closest to score in the second-half so far. Earlier, it wer table-toppers Mumbai City FC has broken the deadlock on the 27th minute of the match courtesy Mourtada Fall. From a corner a ball was floated in by Cy Goddard, it was head cleared by SC East Bengal defenders but not cleanly as the ball fell for Hugo Boumous. He marked Fall inside the box unmarked and dinked in a pass. Fall made no mistake from there as he headed home past a helpless Debjit Majumder. Mumbai could have scored more, at least one more goal but Adam Le Fondre failed to hit the target from a close range. SC East Bengal, on the other hand, have failed to create chances, they did create quite a few half-chances though.
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SCEB have turned around their fortunes in remarkable fashion after losing four of the first five games they played in their maiden season and are currently on a seven-match unbeaten run.
Currently placed at the 10th position with 12 points, a couple of wins will keep SCEB's playoff hopes alive. However, that's easier said than done, considering they next face league leaders Mumbai City FC, who will present a much tougher challenge than the ones SCEB encountered in the last match.
"Mumbai are a good side and they have been doing really well," said SCEB assistant coach Renedy Singh.
"But I feel we have to consider our own style, how we've played in the last seven matches. I think the boys have worked really hard. It is a process that we have to continue. We will work on our own side while giving respect to them."
While the arrival of Bright Enobakhare has given them a trump card in attack, SCEB still have defensive issues. No team has conceded as many goals as them in the second half (13) and only one has conceded more in the last fifteen minutes of the match (5). SC East Bengal boss Robbie Fowler will, however, be buoyed by the form that his keeper Debjit Majumder has been displaying.
In Mumbai, they face a team well-equipped to take advantage of these flaws. If SCEB is prone to conceding in the second half, Sergio Lobera's side specializes in scoring in the first.
No team has netted more in the first half than the ten that Mumbai have managed. They are also now unbeaten in ten games.
Three more and Mumbai will set a league record for the longest unbeaten streak in ISL history, overtaking FC Goa's 12-game run.
"The most important thing is to win a trophy. Obviously, it is a consequence to do a lot of things well. If during the way, we have very good numbers, lots of goals, lots of clean sheets and possession of the ball, you have more possibility of winning the trophy," said Lobera.
"But if I need to refuse these records in order to win a trophy, then I will prefer to win a trophy because that is the best record of all." Lobera is not underestimating the challenge he faces on Friday.
"I think it would be a big mistake if we played tomorrow's game keeping in mind the past match against them," he said. "They are a completely different team and they have improved a lot in performance levels."