Hosts Mumbai FC were smothered a four nil peppering by East Bengal on the final matchday of the 2016-17 I-League, ending their dismal season on a sour note.
Bikash Jairu (7') opened the scoring as Wedson Anselme (62') squeezed one in between a Willis Plaza brace (40' & 68'), who had just returned from a two-game suspension.
Mumbai FC kick-started the tie in a 4-2-3-1 shape with youngster Hitesh Sharma making a return in the attack since his last appearance in the month of February against Southerners Chennai City FC. Right winger Thoi Singh was placed on the bench as Faroukh Choudhary operated in the right midfield with Siam Hanghal taking charge of the things on the left.
As for the visiting side, the Reds and Golds’ boss went ahead with the same formation as the Mumbaikars’. Rowllin Borges and Cavin Peter Lobo functioned as holding midfielders whereas Willis Plaza returned to the squad having served his suspension and functioned as the lone striker up-front.
The visitors began the proceedings on a positive note as they found themselves an early lead in an opening goal from midfielder Bikash Jairu. In the seventh minute, East Bengal’s counter attack saw Jairu take advantage of the situation as he made space for himself and struck a left-footed shot into the net.
Just two minutes later, Haiti international Wedson Anselme spiced up things. The attacker succeeded in cutting past Mumbai's defense and reached the opposition's box. However, an untimed shot from the number 10 player saw the chance being wasted.
Around the 15 minute mark, Hitesh Sharma and Victorino Fernandes teamed up well to create an opportunity in the opposition’s box but the striker’s bad decision of sending the ball behind saw the hosts lose grip. Just moments later, the Reds and Golds attacked from the counter as Ivan Bukenya rushed forward with the ball. But, a brave Pratesh Shirodkar tackled the 6’3 defender and hereby cancelled the danger.
With 30 minutes into the game, youngster Hitesh Sharma portrayed his magic in the midfield as the Tata Football Academy product took hold of the ball and then chipped it over the East Bengal defense so finely that he went over them to meet Victorino, up-front. However, the latter couldn’t control his pace and ended up making a blunder of the golden opportunity.
The Kolkata outfit doubled their lead within 5 minutes from the half-time as number 9 Willis Plaza, who had missed the last tie on account of picking up a red card, registered his name on the score-sheet. Plaza easily got the better of Pratesh Shirodkar as the Trinidad and Tobago striker scored a stunner as Kattimani failed to save the shot which was at the near post.
The two teams exited the pitch at the half-time whistle on a 0-2 scoreline in the favour of Mridul Banerjee’s side.
The second half witnessed good performance from Mumbai’s young guns Faroukh Choudhary and Hitesh Sharma as the duo teamed up to put on a consolation goal for the hosts. Faroukh tried to mess with East Bengal's defense and takes a shot at the goal but it's pretty high and naturally missed the target.
Around the one hour mark, the visitors registered two goals in quick succession to seal a comfortable win. First it was Wedson Anselme added a third goal at Cooperage as a pass from Jairu out the Haitian who made no mistake in storming the ball into the net.
Later, it was Plaza who confirmed the three points from Cooperage as the Trinidad and Tobago forward shot from the outside the box and hit the bottom left corner.
The two goals were enough to cancel out Mumbai’s hope of avoiding a final spot finish as they now have 13 points and their ranking on the table will depend on Minerva Punjab who will play on Sunday against DSK Shivajians. Also with the result, the metropolis club’s days have come to an end in the league for the foreseeable future.