Former Indian Super League champions Mumbai City FC (MCFC) overcame early hiccups to beat Indian Navy 4-1 in their opening Durand Cup match at the Saltlake Stadium here on Thursday. A two-goal blitz by substitute Lallianzuala Chhangte (89th, 90+1st) in the space of two minutes, following goals from Vikram Pratap Singh (45+4th) and Greg Stewart (65th) gave the Islanders full points from Group B.
The star-studded Mumbai outfit dominated the possession but lacked in finishing early on as the Indian Navy took the lead with a peach of a strike from Adersh Mattummal (43rd) against the run of play. Navy’s seasoned goalkeeper-cum-captain Velutha Kulathil Vishnu was resolute under the bar and effected some fine saves to keep the ISL heavyweights at bay.
Finally, Des Buckingham’s side got the much-needed breakthrough in the first-half injury time when Vikram made a fine run inside the box from the right and scored the equaliser with an acute angle finish beyond the reach of Vishnu. Scottish striker Stewart, the ’Hero’ of the last ISL season for Jamshedpur FC, then opened his account at MCFC, with his signature calm-headed finish to give them the lead after the one-hour mark.
Spaniard Alberto Noguera earned the penalty after he was brought down inside the box by rival defender Abhishek Joshy as Stewart put them ahead. Coming off the bench in the second half, Chhangte then changed the complexion of the match with his attacking intent. Making amends for his miss in the 75th minute, Chhangte then put the ball into the far corner to make it 3-1 just before the regulation time of play.
He then utilised Gurkirat Singh’s assist to perfection to complete his brace in the dying minutes to complete a facile win for MCFC.