Three weeks after a feisty win over Kerala blasters in their first home game of the Indian Super League season, Mumbai City FC were involved in another heated battle in their backyard on Saturday. Only this time, they played almost the entire match with 10 players and were held to a heartbreaking 1-1 draw by Hyderabad FC.
There was incredible drama early in the contest. It was the fifth minute; Vikarm Partap Singh was fed a well-weighted through ball by Jorge Pereyra Diaz and he tried to curl the ball into the far corner but missed. Perhaps, it was his fault as he was clear on goal. Two minutes later, though, he was walking off the pitch for no fault of his.
Goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa had been shown a straight red for running out and recklessly taking down Hyderabad FC winger Joe Knowles, who had beaten two defenders and was chasing a loose ball. Less than seven minutes into the match, Mumbai City FC, despite dominating the early exchanges, were down to 10 men.
Coach Des Buckingham was furious at the touchline as he probably thought his defenders had caught up with Knowles by the time he was tackled by Lachenpa. But the referee had made his decision.
Mumbai, however, showed great resilience and kept dominating possession. But the best chance of the first half came to Hyderabad in the 45th minute as Aaren D’Silva missed a free header from inside the six-yard box.
Buckingham walked into the tunnel at the break gesturing animatedly to the home fans to make more noise. The fans responded and so did his players as they began the second half with aggression.
Mumbai kept pressing and were finally rewarded in the 76th minute as Hyderabad defender Manoj Mohammed deflected the ball into his own goal. It was Greg Stewart who set up the goal by slipping a superb pass from the edge of the box. Bipin Singh, who started the game on the bench, got to the end of it and played the ball across goal before it was deflected in.
However, in a moment that sent the Mumbai Football Arena into a stunned silence, Hyderabad got the equaliser in the 97th minute. And it was that man Knowles again as he fired a shot from the right. As luck would have it, the ball deflected off defender Jose Luis Espinosa Arroyo’s chest and rolled into the bottom corner.
The result kept Buckingham’s side in fifth position on the points table, with two wins and as many draws, while Hyderabad remained at the bottom after earning their first point in four games.