In front of a 30,023 energetic support at the DY Patil Stadium, a valiant defensive effort from Mumbai City almost reaped the awards for them in their historical AFC Champions League tie against Al-Hilal. They even held the record four-time winners of the competition goalless at half-time. Goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa was excellent between the sticks putting up several splendid saves. However, once centre-back Mehtab Singh received his second booking for a foul on Ruben Neves early in the second half after being handed the first one for a scuffle with Aleksandar Mitrovic, Mumbai’s worst fears came true.
Michael broke the hour by sneaking past Akash Misha from Mohammed Alburayk’s cross past the hour mark before Mitrovic confirmed the victory five minutes from time. Al-Hilal could have added more to the tally if they were clinical with the other chances created but they overly struggled to find openings without the injured Neymar in the squad. The win kept the Saudi league giants on top of the chart due to goal-difference with second-placed Navbahor also collecting the same number of points with 10. The two will meet for a fascinating matchup in Uzbekistan in the next game week.
Despite Mumbai City creating some decent early chances with Greg Stewart’s shot blocked at the near post and Kalidou Koulibaly’s last-ditch tackle to deny Jorge Pereyra Díaz a clear shot at goal, Mumbai City once again returned empty-handed. The ISL Shield holders defended large periods of the game to avenge their 6-0 loss in the reverse fixture in Saudi Arabia and could be seen as unlucky to be on the losing side. The Islanders remain bottom of the standings with no points earned and no goals scored.
The home side has no chance to qualify for the knockouts of the AFC Champions League now after the defeat in their fourth group-stage game. The places are reserved for only the winners of the group and the best second-placed runners-up teams. The best Mumbai City can get is six points which will get them nowhere. Des Buckingham’s side has nothing to play for the next two games other than consolation as no other side from India will have direct entry to the AFC Champions League from next year.
Here are the stats and records from the AFC Champions League game:
Mumbai City still have not managed to win against Saudi clubs losing in all four meetings so far. They lost both the fixtures to Al-Hilal this season and twice against Al Shabab in their debut campaign in the AFC Champions League
The Islanders are yet to open their scoring account this season and have failed to score in seven of their last eight games in the competition. Overall, they have managed to score only three goals in their wins against Iraqi side Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya the previous year.
Des Buckingham’s team has conceded 13 goals in the four games in the AFC Champions League. That is two more than they allowed in the entire campaign last time. Mumbai City also suffered the joint-heaviest defeat in the competition in the reverse fixture against Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia losing 6-0, the first also against a Saudi club in Al-Shabab.
Al-Hilal has now won 10 of their last 12 away games in the Champions League keeping a clean sheet in their last five. The visitors are unbeaten in their last 18 games across all competitions, recording 15 wins.
This is the second time Mumbai City failed to even produce a single shot on target in the AFC Champions League. The first was their debut game in the competition in the 3-0 defeat to Al-Shabab as well.
Aleksandar Mitrovic leads the scoring chart in the AFC Champions League with five goals from four games so far. The Serbian’s last four goals have come against Mumbai City with a hat-trick in the 6-0 win in the reverse fixture in Saudi Arabia.