ISL 2023/24 – Diaz and Chhangte shine as Mumbai City FC breeze past FC Goa to reach the finals

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In front of a packed Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai City FC triumphed over their coastal rivals FC Goa in an efficient 2-0 win in the second leg of the semi-final and booked their place in the final of the ISL 2023-24 season by clinching the tie 5-2 on aggregate on Monday, 29th April.

Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Lallinzuala Chhangte were on the scoresheet for the Islanders as the Gaurs ran out of steam in the second half. With this win, Peter Kratky’s Mumbai reached their second-ever ISL final where they will face Mohun Bagan SG on the road to their second ISL title.

Mumbai vs Goa

In this game, Mumbai City FC were leading FC Goa by 3-2 on aggregate following their dramatic late comeback in the first leg in Goa. Mumbai’s astonishing comeback and subsequently Goa’s horror end to the game completely changed the dynamics of the tie before the second leg.

Peter Kratky’s men were the favourites and had all the momentum, especially with the home advantage. Mumbai made a few important changes as their star striker Jorge Diaz was fit to play and started over Vojtus. Thaer Krouma started the game as a centre-back along with Tiri, with Jayesh Rane starting in the midfield after a brilliant display in the first leg.

Manolo Marquez and his men had to suffer from a heartbreaking last few minutes in the first leg and were going into the game with the difficult task of winning on demand against a team with one of the best home records in the league this year. The Gaurs had quite a few changes in the starting line-up as veteran Spanish striker Carlos Martinez started along with Rowlin Borges replacing Borja Herrera in the midfield. Marquez also preferred starting the experienced winger Udanta Singh over Boris Singh.

The match started with both teams looking to control possession and create chances rather than playing safe. Goa pressed Mumbai high up the pitch and dominated possession of the ball in the initial phases. Jay Gupta looked to overlap constantly and combine with Noah Sadaoui to cause the Mumbai defence problems. Even though FC Goa looked to attack via Noah on the left wing, Mumbai’s captain Rahul Bheke had other ideas. Bheke stood strong against Noah and neutralised his danger almost single-handedly by winning multiple tackles against him.

Mumbai vs Goa

With Noah’s danger neutralised to an extent, Goa’s possession, pressing and attacks were gradually proving to be toothless while Mumbai took advantage of this and focused on hitting Goa on the counter. Neither Carlos Martinez nor Udanta Singh affected the game at all. In fact, in the first half, Mumbai had the two best chances with Tiri smacking the post after a gorgeous van Nieff corner in the 22nd minute and then Chhangte hitting the post again after a brilliant counter-attack led by Diaz in the 35th minute. Unfortunately for both teams, Noah and Van Nieff got booked in the 38th minute, which meant that both would miss the final in case their team reached the final.

As the second half started, there was a sense that City were climbing on top, Goa’s attacks meeting a frustrating end at the wall of sky blue at the edge of the City box, led by Bheke. Surprisingly, the Islanders looked more likely to score a goal even though Goa were chasing the game and had to score. Mumbai were piling on the pressure on Goa to get the goal that would seal the game and Chhangte came close on multiple occasions.

Mumbai vs Goa

Finally, the deadlock was broken in the 69th minute after another van Nieff corner caused all sorts of bother in the Goa box. Bheke was in the middle of it all as he thundered a header into Dheeraj Singh, and Diaz was on hand to sweep home the rebound, exhibiting his deadly poaching instincts. This goal gave Mumbai a 4-2 lead on aggregate and as a result, opened up the game. Goa looked to attack more actively but the final pass never came.

In the 83rd minute, Borja’s poor first touch started another counter-attack for Mumbai and Vikram Pratap Singh played in a lovely through ball for Chhangte who raced clear of Udanta, before slowing down and allowing the Goa man to run past and simply passed it into the back of an empty net past Dheeraj Singh, showcasing his class and composure and booking Mumbai’s ticket to the ISL final in some style.

Goa ended their ISL season on a disappointing note without any trophies after a couple of poor performances in the playoffs along with a bunch of poor results in the league stage ruined their chances.

Mumbai City on the other hand showed immense character over the two legs, especially after losing the ISL League Shield against Mohun Bagan SG. Peter Kratky’s men now have a golden opportunity to end their season on a great note by lifting the ISL trophy on Saturday, 4th May when they will again face their title rivals Mohun Bagan SG at Kolkata, which promises to be a great climax to the Indian club football calendar.


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