BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
FC Goa showed whiffs of ending Mumbai City FC’s winning streak for a few seconds but once the latter started scoring, the script was clear with the table toppers winning 5-3 in an eight-goal thriller at the Nehru stadium in Fatorda and emerging League winners of ISL 9 on Saturday.
As has been their style, not form, FC Goa started scoring early this time when Anwar Ali floated a free kick from the FC Goa half to Noah Sadaoui who sauntered through three Mumbai FC defenders and slotted the ball past a helpless Phurba Tempa Lachenpa.
The Goa goal saw Mumbai increasing the pace of their attack and an equalizer looked imminent and happened in the 17th minute when they were awarded a free kick on top of the box and Greg Stewart's shot curled in beating Dheeraj Singh hands down.
Mumbai City FC, who started unbeaten, appeared to have come mentally prepared to keep winning and they proved that in the 39th minute when Lallianzuala Chhangte crossed the ball in and Jorge Diaz who ran in tapped neatly to take the lead.
The goal did not appear to deter FC Goa as they equalized two minutes later through captain Brandon Fernandes who intercepted a Noah through ball to outfox the Mumbai City FC goalkeeper.
But Goa's joy was short-lived when Mumbai City took the lead two minutes after FC Goa drew parity through another free kick scored once again by Greg Stewart whose low curling shot frisked past an FC Goa player before nestling in.
As the goals kept coming, the Nehru stadium saw a swing of emotions with the home fans hoping their team would score. But that didn't happen and the two teams trooped in for the lemon break with Mumbai City enjoying an odd goal advantage over five.
Mumbai City started the second session with the hunger to keep scoring whilst FC Goa looked happy to equalise, notch a lead and hold on and that clearly was the difference between the two teams.
The FC Goa defence caved in the 69th minute when the winners were awarded a penalty after Anwar Ali handled the ball in the D area and L Chhangte, who stepped up to take the penalty, did not fail.
The goal saw Mumbai FC coach Desmond Buckingham make a slew of changes and one player to get a nod in was Goa’s Rowllin Borges who played efficiently. Rowllin who came in for captain Jahouh controlled the pace of the game admirably.
Despite the two-goal advantage, Mumbai FC did not appear to take things easy and kept pressing for another goal and they scored their fifth in the 77th minute through substitute Vikram Singh who intercepted Mourtada Fall's header to head the ball past Dheeraj for the team's fifth goal of the evening.
There was little FC Goa could do after that, but try and salvage some pride through a goal that eventually was scored by Brison Fernandes. The goal did lift the tempo of the scattered spectators but that was about it.
Mumbai City FC played with tenacity whilst FC Goa appeared to be trying to find their rhythm with Noah being their sole point of attraction. In the end, Mumbai FC showed why they deserved to be the ISL 9 League champions.