PUNE: Salgaocar FC rode on a 9th minute goal from Francis Fernandes to edge past Mumbai FC 1-0 in their round four match, in the I-League, here, on Saturday.
Mumbai FC’s Ghanaian and Nigerian combination of Yusif Yakubu and Ndibuisi Opara spurned a handful of chances in the middle of the second half but failed to break the shackle.
Substitute Gabriel Fernandes too had three clear chances, but luck was not on his side as the Khalid Jamil’s side suffered yet another loss—worst ever start made by Mumbai outfit since they qualified for the top tier league.
Visitors Salgaocar had a fortified defence for most part of the match — the lapses towards the end were, however, nullified by ever-alert custodian Karanjeet Singh.
Mumbai FC coach Khalid Jamil had no words to explain his side’s wretched run. He just praised the way Salgaocar played at Balewadi Sports Complex under humid conditions.
Mumbai FC started tentatively while Salgaocar began to attack from the start. On a move initiated by Namibian Quinton Jacobs, Randeep Singh set himself up in a nice position at the edge of the right flank before sending a cross at the far end of the post. Man-of-the-match Francis rushed from the left to head the ball past K Sharath. AGENCIES
The win took Salgaocar up to 7th position from 11th they occupied before the match and the first win saw their tally swell to 5 from four matches. Mumbai FC is yet to open their account.
After brisk pace in the first half, Salgaocar slacked a bit after changing ends. That gave Mumbai some room to maneuver but as has been the case right through the season, luck deserted them all the while.
Quinton began to put Salgaocar back into attacking mode. The Namibian forward collected a ball 40 yards away from the post and dribbled past two defenders before shooting it over the crosspiece in the 50 minute.
Mumbai FC counterattacked in the very next minute, but Opara was ruled off-side when he was just two yards from the goal-line with just Karanjeet to beat. Opara wasted yet another chance when his shot streaked wide of the post in the 61st minute.
Mumbai FC made their first substitution when Gabriel Fernandes replaced Abhishek Yadav and soon got into a thick of action.
In a move started by Gabriel, Jamesh Singh took the ball right into the box before Subhas Charaborty messed it up in the 62nd minute.
Realising that Mumbai FC went into attacking mode, Salgaocar assistant coach Peter Valles pulled Quinton out and sent Agnel Aldeguer in, but that didn’t change things much.
Mumbai kept on attacking with fresh legs of Gabriel moving all over the front-line. In the 71st minute, Gabriel and Opara squandered yet another chance on a move created by Ashutosh Mehta and Dane Pererira.
The best chance came in the 80th minute when Gabriel collected a pass from Chakraborty but his right-footer flew over the post.