Bhubaneswar: Punjab FC (PFC) conceded an injury time goal resulting in a 3-2 defeat against Mumbai City FC in an exciting Group C clash in the Kalinga Super Cup being played here at the Kalinga Stadium. With this loss Punjab FC were knocked out of the competition while Mumbai City FC secured their second victory in the tournament. Luka Majcen scored a brace for Punjab while Ayush Chhikara did the same for Mumbai City FC. Seilenthang Lotjem scored the decisive goal to give Mumbai the win.
Punjab FC – 2 (Luca Majcen 28, 88’)
Mumbai City FC – 3 (Ayush Chhikara 37’, 56’, Lotjem 90+3’)
Khaiminthang Lhungdim started at right back in place of Tekcham Abhishek Singh. The other two changes made were Brandon Vanlalremdika coming in for the suspended Amarjit Singh Kiyam and left back Mohammed Salah for Nitesh Darjee.
The match kicked off with Punjab FC initiating the game. Both teams showcased fresh energy, aiming for a victory in the encounter. Punjab took the first throw-in of the game. Mumbai City FC sought to break through Punjab’s defense using quick and precise short passes, demonstrating a strategic approach early in the match while Punjab FC was grappling for ball possession, while the Islanders employed a well-balanced strategy, emphasizing passing and effective ball distribution across both flanks. The Islanders showcase versatility in their gameplay. In the 13th minute of the game, Mumbai City FC earned a free-kick, opting to play the corner deep, but the Punjab goalkeeper punched it away. Franklin Nazareth received the first yellow card of the game for a foul in the battle for the ball. Followed by the free kick Punjab FC responded with another counter-attack, featuring a well-executed through ball from Lhungdim to Luka Majcen. However, Majcen lost possession due to insufficient support, disrupting the potential scoring opportunity. In the 28th minute of the game, Punjab FC executed a flawless counter, with Luka Majcen finding the net to open the scoring. Mehdi Talal contributed with a crucial assist, setting the tone for an exciting match. However, in the 37th minute Ayush Chhikara secured the equalizer for Mumbai City FC with a brilliant finish, showcasing his prowess as a young talent. The game became even more thrilling with the score leveled. The pressure was on both sides to seize a lead before halftime for a strategic advantage and it was a captivating first half as both teams played differently. Luka Majcen and Ayush Chhikara scored, making it 1-1 at halftime.
The second half began with Mumbai City kicking off, but a swift turn saw Punjab gaining possession. Jordan initiated an attack, passing to Talal, who unfortunately mishandled the ball. Talal received a yellow card for a subsequent foul. Within 10 minutes into the second half Mumbai City FC adopted an aggressive approach with consecutive harsh tackles, first on Jordan and then on Mahdi Talal. Surprisingly, no cards were shown despite the physical play. In the 56th minute, Ayush Chhikara secured a brace, propelling Mumbai City FC into the lead with an impressive goal. The young talent’s performance put his team ahead in the match. After that Juan Mera came in and replaced Brandon Vanlalremdika and Punjab FC was making concerted efforts to stage a comeback with successive counter-attacks. Juan Mera took an excellent shot from the center, but Lachenpa skilfully deflected it with a touch. With the game coming to the last 10 minutes, Punjab FC persisted in trying to level the game. Mumbai City FC, with the lead, adopted a defensive strategy, focusing on ball possession and time management. Punjab FC staged a comeback, securing the equalizer with Luka Majcen’s impressive volley. The game was then leveled once again, adding excitement to the closing moments. An additional 5 minutes of extra time was granted, extending the game for added suspense and potential twists in the final moments. Lotjem scored for Mumbai City FC, becoming the super sub, and gave his team the victory.
Punjab FC will face Gokulam Kerala FC in their next group match on 21st January.