The Salt Lake Stadium witnessed an emphatic night, as there was no clear winner in the third quarter-final of the Durand Cup 2022 between Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin FC. It took extra time to find the winner as the two teams went neck-to-neck in ninety minutes, but the Islanders held the edge.
An astounding hattrick by Greg Stewart (40’P, 100’, 118’) coupled with Lallianzuala Chhangte’s scintillating brace (78’, 94’) propelled Mumbai City FC to a win over Chennaiyin FC who made a commendable comeback but fell short of goals after the Chennai side fought back with three goals from Petar Sliskovic (59’), Jockson (89’), and Rahim Ali (112’).
Chennaiyin FC had to resort to an early change in the opening 15 minutes of the game as Kwame Karikari had a head-on collision with a Mumbai City FC player, with Rahim Ali replacing the forward who was stretchered off the field.
Both sides throbbed on the field and kept creating chances but neither team could find an opening owing to the compact and organized defense set up by the two teams. The game took a stagnant look, as the two teams were successful in clamping down each other in all areas of the pitch.
In the 38th minute, Ahmed Jahouh missed an excellent opportunity from a free kick as the Moroccan went for a shot towards the far post but squandered his chance.
Moments later, the Islanders got the better of the Marina Machans as Greg Stewart handed his side the lead from a spot-kick after a reckless challenge by Debjit Majumder on Amey Ranawade. The Scotsman was on the mark as he found the back of the net, with Majumder getting his fingertips on the ball but it wasn’t enough to stop it from getting past the net.
Stewart’s opener was enough to give Des Buckingham’s side the control of the game as they had their noses in front at the break. In the 55th minute, Ninthoi skewed a big chance from an Anirudh Thapa corner as he failed to hit the target from a point-blank range. Four minutes later, Sliskovic churned out the best possible opportunity into a goal from a thumping header after Ninthoi whipped in a cross that found Sliskovic inside the box, with the forward heading it at the far post to keep the score level.
Des Buckingham’s side had another go at the goal after Greg Stewart and Amey Ranawade had a brilliant exchange, with the former finding Chhangte, only for his shot to be parried away by Debjit Majumder. Chhangte brought the lead back to his side in the 78th minute as he scored from a rebound after Bipin Singh’s shot was half-stopped by Majumder.
There was action all over the pitch as the game started to breathe attack again as Chennaiyin FC was looking for an equalizer whereas Mumbai City FC were hungry for another one. Greg Stewart had pulled a stunner volley that narrowly missed the post by a whisker as the Islanders held the edge over the Marina Machans.
Thomas Brdaric’s men struck back with the second equalizer of the night in the 89th minute through Jockson Dhas who netted a spectacular half volley to keep the game alive for his side. With the score back to square one, the game went ahead into extra-time as both sides kept the momentum going until the end of the 90 minutes.
Mumbai City FC was quick to pounce on their fellow opponent right in the initial minutes of the extra-time as they found an opening through Lallianzuala Chhangte again. The winger, who was left unmarked, received a headed pass from Mourtada Fall and then slotted in a header into the right-bottom corner of the net to restore the lead back to his side.
The Islanders left the Marina Machans no breathing space as they scored a fourth of the night, this time through Greg Stewart who linked up well with Chhangte on the right wing, dribbled past three defenders with ease and placed it in the far post to make it 4-2. With ten minutes left on the clock, Brdaric’s men found themselves back in the game after a series of continuous attempts at goal. Rahim Ali pelted one from inside the box after an Anirudh Thapa corner made chaos as the Islanders couldn’t clear the ball in the first attempt as the ball fell through to Julius Duker who made the final pass to Ali, with the latter scorching it inside the net to make it 4-3.
Greg Stewart scored a hat trick to conclude the game as Mumbai City FC took advantage of a weary Chennaiyin FC side and attacked the counter with the help of Chhangte again as the latter laid it off to Stewart who slotted it past the keeper to seal the victory for his side. The Islanders will now face Mohammedan SC in semi-final one of the Durand Cup.