AFC Champions League: Nassaji Mazandaran down Mumbai City in ...
Mumbai City FC kickstarted their AFC Champions League campaign on a disappointing note as Iranian side Nassaji Mazandaran ran out winners by 2-0 on Monday, September 18. The contest played out at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune saw the home side dominate the early proceedings but were ultimately undone after the visitors showed their class on the counter-attack. The Islanders will now look to bounce back in from the defeat on Sunday, September 24 against NorthEast United in the Indian Super League (ISL) opener.
Playing in their second AFC Champions League season, Mumbai started the first half on a high as they dominated the possession from the start. Mumbai came close in the 19th minute to break the deadlock but Lallianzuala Chhangte was denied by alert defending from the Iranian outfit. Greg Stewart then came close to open the scoring but his shot narrowly missed the target.
The biggest moment of the first half came in the 34th minute, completely against the run of play as Mohammad Hosseini pounced on a mistake by skipper Rahul Bheke to score the first goal of the AFC Champions League 2023-24 season. The visitors would then hold fine for the next ten minutes as they went into the break with a 1-0 lead while Mumbai missed several chances from open play.
Like the first half, Mumbai started the second half on a high but did not take advantage of the half chances which proved costly. The lead was doubled in the 62nd minute as Mohammad Reza Azadi scored from another error as Nassaji were in the driving seat. With a 2-0 lead in the bank, the visitors opted for a defensive approach.
Mumbai would come close in the last 15 minutes as they tried pressing high, Chhangte came close in the 64th minute, immediately after the Nassaji goal, but did not find his finishing touch. In the 77th minute, Vikram Pratap and Argentine forward Jorge Pereyra Díaz failed to find the target from five yards, to sum up the day for the ISL champions.
Mumbai City FC will next take on Uzbekistan outfit Navbhor FC in their next AFC Champions League contest while they will also be in action during the ISL season where they will take on NorthEast United in the opening match. On the flip side, Nassaji Mazandaran will take on Saudi Pro League giants Al-Hilal. The second matchweek will take place on Tuesday, October 3.
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