Mumbai City FC, who are playing the AFC Champions League for the first time, began their campaign with a 3-0 humbling against Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab, who were returning to continental football after a 7-year absence. Ever Banega scored a brace while Turki Al Ammar scored the third goal as the Saudi Arabian side bagged all the three points.
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Mumbai City FC manager Des Buckingham chose to go with 4-4-2 with Phurba Lachenpa in the goal. He deployed young Vikram Pratap Singh and Cassio Gabriel together at the top while Ahmed Jahouh and Apuia were holding the midfield. The back four consisted of Rahul Bheke, Mehtab Singh, Mourtada Fall and Mandar Rao Dessai. Bipin Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte were on the wings.
The Saudi side wasted no time in taking the game to their opponents, and inside two minutes goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa was forced into making his first save after Hattan Bahebri broke free down the left and squared for Nawaf Al Abid whose left-footed effort was rescued by the tip of the Mumbai City goalkeeper’s gloves.
Halfway through the opening period Al Abid was presented with a golden chance to open the scoring when he was sent through on goal by a sublime Carlos pass, and he attempted a dinked finish past the goalkeeper, but his effort passed just wide off target.
Al Shabab thought they had opened the scoring in the 28th minute when Bahebri’s shot from the edge of the box had two deflections before falling for Ahmed Sharahili with the goal at his mercy, but the centre-back fluffed his lines from a few yards out.
Banega scored his first-ever AFC Champions League goal to give the Saudi side the lead nine minutes before the break. The Argentine stepped up to send Lachenpa the wrong way from the spot after the Mumbai City goalkeeper had brought down Carlos inside the box.
Lachenpa continued his heroics after the break, denying Carlos a certain goal after the Brazilian was set up by a Banega through ball, but the Indian goalkeeper produced a fine save with his feet.
Al Shabab doubled their lead in the 68th minute after a nice passing exchange between Al Abid and Abdullah Al Jouhi saw the latter pull back for Banega who controlled and calmly finished from the edge of the area for his second of the night.
Tip, Tap, Boom 💥Precision passing around the box, gave Banega the sweet spot to score his brace for Al Shabab 🇸🇦#ACL2022 | #MUMvSHB pic.twitter.com/2Y36LUrIvC
— #ACL2022 (@TheAFCCL) April 8, 2022
Substitute Al Ammar made it three for the Riyadh-based side with 13 minutes to go after he got on the end of a Fawaz Al Saqour-cross from the right foot, finishing in style with the outside of his left foot to extinguish any doubts.
Al Shabab take on UAE champions Al Jazira on Monday while Mumbai City’s maiden adventure in the competition sees them face three-time AFC Cup winners Air Force Club of Iraq next.
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