MUMBAI — Mumbai FC kept its slim chances of making the playoffs alive with a last-gasp 3-2 victory over bottom-placed NorthEast United FC in a thrilling Indian Super League encounter here at the Mumbai Football Arena Feb. 22.
Cameroonian attacking midfielder Achille Emana (15th minute) opened the scoring for the hosts in what was a must-win game for them, but Lucian Goian (24th minute) put ball into his own net to level proceedings.
Guinea-Bissauan center-back Sambinha (43rd minute) then helped the visitors nod ahead and take a 2-1 lead into the halftime break.
Brazilian forward Everton Santos (54th) made it 2-2 early on in the second period before Goian (90th minute) dramatically atoned for his first-half error by netting the winner in stoppage time.
The result saw Mumbai pip FC Goa to sixth place in the points table. The Ranbir Kapoor-co owned franchise now have 23 points from 16 matches, four off fourth-placed Jamshedpur FC (26 points) with two games in hand.
There was no end to NorthEast's misery as they succumbed to their fifth defeat on the trot.
For large spells, it looked like NorthEast would get at least a point from this game. They were down by an early goal from Emana but Goian's own goal brought them back. Sambinha then gave NorthEast the lead in the 43rd minute, only for Santos 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 Emana who carved out a goal from nothing. It was 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 T.P. 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 equalizer in the 24th minute. Maic Sema crossed the ball from the left for Gursimrat Singh, whose shot was travelling towards goal and Mumbai defender 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 equalizer.
Santos got the equalizer 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 equalizer. Goian made a superb run to meet Raju Gaikwad's cross and finished it with some class in the first minute of stoppage time.