Mumbai City FC rode on a brace by Vikram Partap Singh to beat Bengaluru FC by 2-0 and secure a league double over the Blues in their Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 fixture at the Mumbai Football Arena (MFA) here on Sunday night. Overcoming a run of indifferent form earlier, the Islanders are now level on points with FC Goa (28) and are placed fourth in the standings because of having played an extra game (14) than the Gaurs (13). Valpuia and Yoell van Nieff were roped into the playing XI by Petr Kratky for this fixture, with the former playing an advanced role on the right flank. I-League 2023–24: Sergio Barboza’s Late Winner Helps Delhi FC Edge Past Aizawl FC.

The Blues dominated possession (56%) and took more shots (14) than the Islanders (7), but their frontline failed to trouble home team goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa barring a couple of formidable efforts by Suresh Singh Wangjam and Nikhil Poojary. Wangjam was touchingly close to netting the third goal of his ISL career as his left-footed effort deflected off the crossbar in the 12th minute. Soon afterwards, Poojary interlinked with Harsh Patre to take a shot that was saved by a composed Lachenpa who held his line despite the Blues taking the attack to him.

Vikram broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute, but Bengaluru FC talisman Sunil Chhetri had a chance to do that five minutes earlier when his headed effort off a delivery by Chinglensana Singh missed the target by a whisker. However, Vikram’s opener had its fair share of drama around it, with Chhetri possibly fouling Lalengmawia Ralte before the midfielder laid out a pass to Lallianzuala Chhangte on the inside channel of the right flank.

The Islanders chose to play advantage and Chhangte squared up a pass that Vikram slotted into the net to bring the spectators to their feet. Mumbai City FC made sure that they continued this momentum into the second half. The duo of Valpuia and van Nieff worked the ball up on the right wing before the previous game’s scorer Iker Guarrotxena swung in a cross for Vikram on the far post on the left side. ISL 2023–24: Punjab FC Suffer Heavy Defeat Against 0–4 Jamshedpur FC at Home.

The young winger is not usually a threat in the air but he managed to jump the highest and nod the ball home pretty comfortably to double his team’s lead in the 57th minute. Kratky will be pleased with Vikram rising to the challenge in the absence of strikers like Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Gurkirat Singh Gill, as Mumbai City FC marches on in coming to terms with the departure of Greg Stewart from their frontline.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 19, 2024 03:09 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website