Pune: Mumbai FC crashed to their first loss in six encounters against Air India. Sandesh Gadkari made the difference between the two teams scoring as early as the 5th minute at the Balewadi Sports Complex Ground on Saturday.
Air India were the better side creating chances upfront with Henry Ezeh and Sandesh Gadkari keeping Mumbai FC defence on their toes.
The match was just five minutes old when Sandesh Gadkari got a clearance in the right wing and moved up. He rushed right into the top of the box catching the Mumbai FC defence manned by Nicholas Rodrigues and captain Abhishek Yadav, unawares.
Gadkari fired a left-footer from around 45 degrees. The ball hit the netting and went out. For some time Mumbai FC defence kept wondering whether the ball actually went in, but the referee rightly signaled the goal.
With three full points, Air India raised their points tally to 24 from 17 matches while Mumbai FC stay on 14 points.
Mumbai FC had themselves to blame. Sukore tried his level-best to break into Air India forte but didn’t get much support as Gbeneme Friday had an off-day
Five minutes after Gadkari’s goal, Air India had a chance to increase the lead when Ezeh Henry got a clearance and moved up solo. He had just the goalkeeper Nidhin Lal AC to beat but ended up earning a corner, which went waste.
Air India mid-fielder Bijoy Basfore too had his chance when his left-footer from the corner of the box was punched out by Nidhin Lal.
In the second-half, Mumbai FC looked fatigued and clueless resorting to rough play. Three yellow cards came in for Air India too — Takayuki Omi, Pratik Chaudhary and Henry — will all sit out in the next match following double bookings.
Mumbai FC got one good chance in the 74th minute when Sukore cut through the Air India defence and entered the box. But he delayed taking the final shot and lost out.
In the injury-time, an unmarked Air India striker Manandeep Singh wsted, perhaps the easiest chance of the match when he muffed from less than 10 yards.
Air India’s Lamine Tamba was declared the Man-of-the-Match.