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In an error-strewn final, Mumbai City come out on top to win ISL title

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Two errors that led to goals from ATK Mohun Bagan’s defensive line allowed Mumbai City FC to become the Indian Super League (ISL) champions for the first time at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa on Saturday. A 90th minute left-footed strike from Bipin Singh was enough for the Islanders to win right at the death, after both teams remained deadlocked for over 60 minutes with a goal apiece.

This is the first time Mumbai have become the ISL champions. They are also only the second team after Bengaluru to top the table in the league stage and then go on to win the final.

For all their talk of being a true passing team, Mumbai was put under the scanner by ATK Mohun Bagan’s forward line that simply refused to let the League Shield winners rest on the ball. The constant pressure was evident from minute one, affecting Mumbai’s rhythm early on.

It led to Ahmed Jahouh, a player who has made the highest number of passes for Mumbai this season, lose possession right outside his team’s box to ATK Bagan’s David Williams. The Australian, chief of the attackers who was hounding Mumbai’s players, found himself with just goalkeeper Amrinder Singh to beat and he did so with ease, blasting a shot onto the Indian international, who meekly let the ball between his hands. This was the first time Bagan managed to score a goal against Mumbai in a little over 100 minutes.

While Bagan had just begun to show why they were just as good a team as Mumbai, the Islanders managed to snag a lucky break. Nine minutes after the first goal, Jahouh, who finally found the time and space to pass the ball after nearly 30 minutes, launched a hopeful long ball to winger Bipin Singh, who was at an advanced position near the Bagan box.

But a communicating error between Spanish defender Tiri and goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya saw the centre-back head the ball back into his own goal. Thirty minutes in, and the scores were level.

The first half ended with a head injury suffered by Mumbai’s right back Amey Ranawade. He was taken to a hospital in an ambulance after a period of treatment on the pitch, where he was kept under observation.

The second half of the match began with Mohamad Rakip replacing Mumbai’s injured right-back. Both teams came close to scoring as the final half of the season began. In the 58th minute, Hugo Boumous, Mumbai’s attacking midfielder with 10 goals and 10 assists this season, missed a sitter by his standards. With only the ATK custodian to beat, Boumous’s shot went uncharacteristically above the crossbar from close range to deny Sergio Lobera’s team the lead in the final.

A few minutes later Rakip almost had an introduction to forget as his attempted clearance from a free-kick went into the Mumbai goal. But Roy Krishna was marginally offside as the freekick was being taken and the goal was disallowed. Both teams were still on 1-1 with just over 30 minutes of the game left.

But things turned in Mumbai’s favour after Lobera brought on ATK Bagan’s nemesis this season, Bartholemew Ogbeche, in the 71st minute.

Ogbeche scored the winner when the two teams first met on February 28 and then secured Mumbai’s League Shield and a spot in the AFC Champions League when he scored the Islanders’ second goal in their 2-0 victory against Antonio Habas’ team in the final game of the league.

ATK have the unique distinction of scoring after the 75th minute 11 times this season. And yet it was the Ogbeche curse that struck Habas’ team and the Spaniard’s chance at winning the ISL trophy for the third time.

It was another error, this time by custodian Arindam, which allowed Ogbeche a free run in the ATK box with the ball. For a moment it seemed that the Nigerian had drifted away from goal, but he cut back in with his left foot and was about to pull the trigger when his teammate Bipin struck the ball with his left foot into the far post in the final minute of regular time to score what was eventually the winner.

It was a final where all goals had their own element of mistakes involved but the trophy ended up heading to the team that made fewer errors.

Ranawade hospitalised, in stable condition

Mumbai City FC’s right-back Amey Ranawade had to be taken to a hospital, brought onto the field after a clash of heads with ATK Mohun Bagan’s Subashish Bose at the stroke of half time of the ISL final. The ISL, via social media, said he was in a stable condition and was kept under observation.

The injury took place right in front of the ATK bench and the medical staff of both teams rushed to treat him. As players from both teams gathered around the half-line, looking concerned, the medical officers treated him for close to 10 minutes. Ultimately, he was taken to a hospital.


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