A Sunil Chhetri brace helped the Blues to all three points in the western metropolis.
Mumbai City FC were condemned to back to back defeats at home in Indian Super League (ISL) after Bengaluru FC beat them 3-1 at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday. Sunil Chhetri struck twice and Miku netted a freekick for the Blues, while Leo Costa pulled one back for the Islanders.
The loss keeps Mumbai in fifth spot in table and their head coach Alexandre Guimaraes was left to rue Chhetri’s penalty that opened the scoring on the night for Bengaluru. “Well, I feel that we did a very good first half which was like a very open game. But unfortunately, we conceded a penalty. Then, we made some plans in the dressing room but again they started well in the second half and got the second goal. That made it more difficult for us,” the Costa Rican told reporters at the post-match press conference.
He continued: “They managed the tempo of the game well. We did all we had to do and risked everything. Then we got a good reaction which kept us in the game. What is important now is to recover, physically for the players, as some of them felt the intensity of these last two games we had. Now we have to move forward, that’s it.”
While expanding on his side’s shortcomings in the opening period, Guimaraes added: “Like I said, in the first half, unfortunately, we had problems after reaching the final third, near their defence. We didn’t have the quality to finish better or to choose better. We couldn’t take advantage after arriving to this area and that is what the game is about, right?”
Guimaraes was quick to bat away suggestions that his side’s intensity dropped after Bengaluru doubled their lead. “Not at all. After the (Bengaluru’s) second goal, as I said before, we did some movements, tried to take the risks and then they got another goal. It was a very intelligent decision the striker from Bengaluru took. We then got back into the game with Leo Costa coming in. We scored and came close. Now we will continue to fight and we know that anything can happen,” he said.
When asked about Bengaluru’s propensity to attack from the flanks, the 58-year-old said: “From the beginning we knew that they would want to use the wings and we put Abinash Ruidas and Raju Gaikwad there, but Raju got injured and was taken off. Like I said, in the first half, we more or less managed the situation. It was a very equal game.”
Guimaraes also highlighted the importance of recovery for his players as he looks ahead to the remaining matches in the Islanders’ campaign. “The next 48 hours will be very important for us. We have to see how some players who had some problems during the game react. After that, we will think about the next one,” he said.
The Blues’ head coach Albert Roca spoke of his delight after their disappointing loss to Delhi Dynamos FC in their last outing. “We just wanted to turn things around as quick as possible (after the loss in the previous game). We played a good game and I am happy,” he told the media at the post-match press conference before admitting it was a tough encounter. “It was not an easy game. I think we were playing with focus from the beginning. Step by step we grew into the game and after the goals, it became easier. But again, it is not a game that is easy and for sure, not against Mumbai.
Roca, however, was disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet following Leo Costa’s goal in the 76th minute. ”It’s a shame though that we could not manage to secure a clean sheet. But then they have very good players as you can see. In my eyes, two years ago, some of the best players played in the second division and now they are top players. I think my team was better and we did the job well. I am really happy for the team,” he said.
Bengaluru broke the deadlock after Chhetri found the back of the net from the spot. When commenting on the Bengaluru captain’s spot-kick, Roca said: “That moment (the penalty) I think we were able to manage the situation very well because we created such a situation from such positions. You know the defenders will tackle when you are playing close to the box. So, this is a referee’s decision, which I am yet to see. In Delhi, we conceded a penalty, which I don’t think was one. But I don’t think we won the match because of the penalty we got. I think it is because we were superior in our game today.”
When asked if he had told his players to do anything different in the second half, the Spaniard replied: “I didn’t change anything. I asked the players to keep playing as they were playing because it wasn’t the moment to change anything. When they scored the goal, it was a dangerous moment, because you never know when they may score the second and then close in. When Leo Costa came, they started playing better and we had to make some changes there. We had to take out one of the strikers and rotate the midfield positions. But in the end, we managed to hold on.”