Mumbai: Sunil Chhetri may have had a debut to forget when Mumbai City FC lost to Chennaiyin FC in their previous home game, but made amends with a fine double against Delhi Dynamos to lead his side to their first win in the second season of Indian Super League.
Chhetri showed sheer class when he finished side-footed first time past Delhi's goalkeeper Antonio Doblas to give Mumbai the lead in the 13th minute before tapping in the second goal late in the second half to all but seal the three points with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Delhi controlled early proceedings as they were afforded way too much time and space in the first half. In fact, Mumbai midfielder Cristian Bustos desperately holding onto Gustavo Dos Santos' shorts as the Brazilian tried to run past him personified the home team's start. But to their credit, they looked brilliant on the break with Sony Norde given a free role and Chhetri playing off him.
The move paid off as it was the Haitian who broke free of Delhi's defence, cut in and saw his shot blocked. But India's record goal-scorer Chhetri ran on to the loose ball and executed a deft finish of the highest class to tuck the ball low to the keeper's right, before jumping over the fences and celebrating with Mumbai's singing section.
Delhi almost hit back with Florent Malouda intercepting a long ball and whizzing past Pavel Cmovs -- but his low shot was superbly saved by Subrata Paul with his legs. Hans Mulder had another chance to put his team level when a Malouda cross found him in acres of space, but the Dutch midfielder's header was too tame to trouble Subrata, the captain for the home team who had a solid night in goal.
In the second half, Delhi looked jaded as they saw hopes of extending their three-match winning streak slip away. Mumbai deployed the pacey Subhash Singh and Gabriel Fernandes on the wings and the two got in behind Delhi's back four time and again, aided by Norde's intelligent running between the channels.
Mumbai upped the ante as Subhash slammed the crossbar with an audacious effort from 40 yards. Chhetri's glorious lobbed through ball then found Norde free, but Mumbai's No 16 remained without a goal as his effort was straight into the keeper.
Delhi seemed to get some confidence from Mumbai's profligacy and created a couple of chances -- Subrata was called into action twice in the space of five minutes - once to tip away a Souvik Chakraborty cross and then to deflect a Francisco Fernandes volley past the post.
But just when it seemed Mumbai would pay for their profligacy, it was Norde who turned Delhi centre-back Anderson Cardoso with a lovely trick before crossing to the back post, where Chhetri made a late run to tap in. Robin Singh had a late chance when he flicked a low cross from Florent Malouda but the header deflected off the crossbar and Subrata's clean sheet remained in tact.
Mumbai moved off the bottom of the table with their first win of the season -- and with three home games coming in the next eleven days, it may have come at just the right time.
That, and Chhetri's form.
Updated Date: Oct 21, 2015 21:25:51 IST