Mumbai FC carried their good form into the New Year, registering a facile 3-0 win over Mohammedan Sporting in a 11th round I-League match at the Cooperage in Mumbai on Tuesday. They led 2-0 at half-time.
With this fifth victory, the local outfit soared two places to fourth position with a creditable 19 points, while the Kolkata outfit, who slid to their sixth defeat, remain in 11th position with nine points.
Midfielder Riston Rodrigues opened the floodgates for the yellow shirts in the 35th minute, drilling a low drive from 25 yards away into the right hand corner past Naseem Akhtar, who might have been unsighted by a clutch of defenders in front of him.
Kalia Kulothangan then added his fifth goal in the tournament a minute before the break, popping up to tap a Sanjay Parte free-kick which Abel Hammond laid up for him on a platter.
Substitute Abhishek Yadav completed the rout in the 74th minute, flicking in a lovely pull back by Hammond from the left side of the pitch.
It was an inspired move by Mumbai FC coach David Booth to bring in the lanky India striker at the expense of winger Aseem K in the 25th minute in order to put pressure on the five-man rival defence which had managed to frustrate all Mumbai FC build-ups till then. The move paid dividends as Mohammedan Sporting succumbed to the additional pressure and conceded two goals before the changeover.
Mumbai FC might perhaps rue that their two Ghanaian strikers were not sharp enough and could not get into the score sheet. But Booth countered that he was not unduly worried as long as the goals are coming from others and the African duo assisting in the process.
On the other hand, the Shabbir Ali-coached visitors were mostly listless, with Mike Okoro being ineffective up front and Theodore Sunday out due to injury (he is likely to be replaced by another foreign import).
The Mohammedan midfield too lacked the guile to prise open the local defence where stand in stopper back Anas Edathodika brought a measure of stability. He was voted 'man of the match' despite picking up a booking late in the day.
The losers rallied strongly in the last ten minutes after Adebayo, who was playing as sweeper back, moved into the central midfield position to shore up the attack. This brought the Mumbai defence under sustained pressure but it was a little bit too late and the winners kept their cool and composure at the back and maintained a clean slate.