Mumbai City beat Chennaiyin 2-1, thanks to goals from Hernan Santana and Adam Le Fondre, but that score does not tell the story of the game. Chennaiyin had 17 shots on goal (as against Mumbai's 8) in a match they dominated for large swathes.
The Chennaiyin high press had rattled Mumbai City and with the (designated) hosts struggling to find rhythm, Chennaiyin seemed to be able to carve out chances at will. Jakub Slyvestr and Lallianzuala Chhangte missed presentable opportunities before the two combined to give them a deserved lead.
Chhangte picked up the ball near the halfway line, and ran. He raced past four, before screaming into the box. At the byline, he took a touch, waited, sat Amrinder Singh down and rolled a simple pass to Sylvestr who touched it into the net from a yard out.
Chennaiyin kept piling on the pressure, but the final pass seemed to elude them. Mourtada Fall was everywhere in the Mumbai defence, throwing himself at shots and tackling Chennaiyin's incessant runners-from-midfield.
Mumbai slowly grew back into the game, with Hugo Bomous' direct and incisive running and Adam Le Fondre's sharp movement. They got a couple of chances themselves, but with Ahmed Jahouh's influence limited to rash tackles - he appeared fortunate to escape a booking in that first half - they couldn't get a proper foothold in the game.
Then, with the last touch of the first half, they equalised.
In the third of three minutes of added time, Mumbai won a throw-in, despite the ball appearing to have been put out of play by a Mumbai player. From it, they won a corner, Hugo Boumous swung it in deep, Vishal Kaith came flying out and completely missed the ball, and Hernan Santana guided a good header into the goal.
It wasn't great defending, and this weakness would manifest itself in the second half for the goal that would eventually be the winner. After dominating from the off, they conceded a freekick near the halfway line in the 75th minute. Jahouh swung it in, Bomous flicked it on and Le Fondre finished superbly.
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The game was plagued with controversies -- Jahouh's clumsy tackle on Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev in the Mumbai box going unpunished principle among them. But Chennaiyin kept coming, and despite losing substitute Isma to a hamstring injury and being reduced to ten men (having exhausted all five subs by then), they continued to create chances.
Chhangte was superb throughout, a willing and capable runner who caused panic in the Mumbai rearguard every time he got on the ball. In the first minute of added time, a Chhangte cross pin-balled around the Mumbai box but Mourtada Fall blocked Sylvestr's goal-bound effort. Then, with the last touch of the game, Sylvestr snapped a free header from six yards out just wide of Amrinder's near post.
The gritty win means Mumbai City have consolidated their lead at the top of the table with 12 points in five games. Chennaiyin, meanwhile, remain in eighth with four points in four, but they will take heart from an excellent performance.
Mumbai now face Jamshedpur on Monday the 14th, and Chennaiyin play the impressive NorthEast United the day before.