MUMBAI CITY FC PUT ON a solid comeback effort, holding the unbeaten NorthEast United to a 2-2 away draw.
The first half was quite a goalfest with the first goal coming just 9 minutes in. A defensive error put NEUFC medio Panagiotis Triadis on possession just outside the box. He took a few steps to the right to drag the defenders along and create a better angle for himself, and let it fly. The world class goal got the Highlanders an early lead but it would soon be undercut by a destructive spell starring MCFC's Tunisian attacker.
A through ball saw Pape Sougou send a precise cross to Chermiti who had made a perfect run up the middle. He had left his marker behind and had only the keeper in front of him, who he left wanting with a quick tap-in.
But Chermiti wasn't done. Just after the half hour mark when Mumbai City got a 30 yard free kick, he sneaked up behind the NEUFC defence to receive the set-piece offering and executed a tricky low-flying bicycle kick that Subhashish Roy Chowdhury rooted to the ground.
The hosts, however, decided to stay on the offensive instead of looking for containment. Their repeated attempts bore fruit just before half-time when star striker Asamoah Gyan got hold of a ball from Chaves and made a dirting run into the MCFC box. He had two defenders ahead of him, but with a quick turn from left to right he left them stranded and fired a cannonball into the net.
With the first half producing 4 goals the game looked set to be a duel till the last minute for the 3 points. But the second half went goalless. Both sides created chances and the game kept up its intensity, but ended in a draw; albeit thoroughly entertaining.
You can watch the highlights of the match here courtesy the official ISL youtube channel...
While the fans present in Guwahati appreciated the effort from both sides, neither team would be completely happy with this result. Mumbai City needed a win to recover from their recent lack of form and get close to the top four. NorthEast United, on the other hand, lost a golden opportunity to go to the top of the table thanks to dropping 2 points at home. Chemitri, who scored both the goals for MCFC, rued the fact that the team didn't go away with all 3 points,
"Really, we're not so happy with the result because our aim was to win, must come back with the 3 points."
NEUFC assistant coach Khalid Jamil, too, had a similar outlook on the result, saying that "lack of concentration" cost the Highlanders the win.
A win would also be re-assuring since both the teams are set to face the top two clubs, ATK and Jamshedpur FC, in the league in their next outing. But both coaches would have some positive takeaways from the game as well; Mumbai City showed a remarkable return to form and NorthEast United displayed their solidity when they fought hard to come back from a goal down, proving themselves to be one of the harder teams to beat this season.