Mumbai: Lucian Goian led from the front for Mumbai City FC as he scored a precious winner in stoppage time as the hosts won a five-goal thriller 3-2 against NorthEast United FC at the Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai, on Thursday.
On a night where Mumbai City had to win the match, the dramatic late winner helped the Islanders stay alive in the race for a place in the playoffs. Mumbai City have now moved to the sixth spot with 23 points from 16 matches. Should they win their remaining two matches against Delhi Dynamos and Chennaiyin FC, they can still make it to the top four.
NorthEast United have been left at the bottom of the pool with 11 points from 17 matches.
For large spells, it looked like NorthEast would get at least a point from this game. They were down by an early goal from Achille Emana (15th minute) but Lucian Goian’s own goal brought them back in the 24th minute. Sambinha then gave NorthEast the lead in the 43rd minute, only for Everton Santos (54th minute) to draw level for Mumbai and Goian to strike at the very end in this dramatic tie.
Needing a win to get their campaign back on track, Mumbai City started strongly and deservedly took the lead inside the first 15 minutes which they thoroughly dominated.
They took the lead through midfielder Achille Emana who carved out a goal from nothing. It was Everton Santos who had picked out his teammate on the top of the box and the burly Cameroonian, took a swift turn and then picked out the bottom right corner before a diving TP Rehenesh could get there.
Goalkeeper Rehenesh was otherwise alert for NorthEast United FC, keeping away a blazing shot from Santos early in the game and then tipping over a free-kick from Marcio Rozario.
NorthEast got the equaliser in the 24th minute. Maic Sema crossed the ball from the left for Gursimrat Singh, whose shot was travelling towards goal and Mumbai defender Lucian Goian, in an attempt to clear, steered it inside his own goal.
The visitors should have been ahead in the 41st minute but John Mosquera missed a sitter from a swift counter-attack. NorthEast, however, were not to be denied the lead two minutes later as an unmarked Sambinha came up with a low header from Lalrindika Ralte’s corner kick.
In the second session, Mumbai didn’t have to wait too long for the equaliser.
Everton Santos got the equaliser when he bundled home past two defenders from inside the box after it was headed into his path by Rafa Jorda. Mumbai then kept bombarding the goal in search of a precious winner which was eventually secured through an unlikely source.
It was the captain who redeemed himself for his earlier lapse that gave NorthEast the equaliser. Goian made a superb run to meet Raju Gaikwad’s cross and finished it with some class in the first minute of stoppage time.