Kwesi Appiah scores on debut as NorthEast United stun Mumbai City in their opening match of the season…

A second half penalty strike from Ghanian international Kwesi Appiah was enough for NorthEast United to down Mumbai City on Saturday at the Tilak Maidan, Goa.

Mumbai’s midfield general Ahmed Jahouh was given the marching orders just minutes before the half time as the Islanders were reduced to 10-men for the rest of the game.

Sergio Lobera’s side dictated the game right from the beginning. The Spanish coach deployed a 4-2-2-2 formation with Hernan Santana and Sarthak Golui as central defenders with Ahmed Jahouh and Rowllin Borges lying deep.

Hugo Boumous was given a free role who operated right behind the two forwards Bartholomew Ogbeche and Adam Le Fondre.

Mumbai were the team with more possession throughout the first half with Jahouh orchestrating the game from the centre of the pitch. Unfortunately, the Islanders could not convert their dominance into goals as NorthEast United players did well to deny any space in Mumbai’s attacking third.

Disaster struck the away side just two minutes from the half time when their key midfielder Jahouh was sent off after a clumsy and unnecessary challenge on Khassa Camara near the centre circle.

The Highlanders looked confident in their approach as the second half resumed and won a penalty within two minutes. Dylan Fox tried to head the ball in from a dangerous cross from Luis Machado and the ball hit Borges’ hand inside the box. Kwesi Appiah converted the spot-kick to hand NorthEast the lead.

The goal and the red card completely changed the complexion of the match. To add more firepower in attack Gerard Nus introduced Federico Gallego and Britto PM. The Uruguayan’s inclusion enhanced NorthEast’s intensity in the attack.

Jahouh’s absence was felt massively in the midfield as Lobera’s men failed to create chances and dominate proceedings in the centre of the park like the first half. Credit to Highlanders defenders Benjamin Lambot and Dylan Fox who stood firm on their ground throughout 90 minutes and did not allow the Mumbai attackers to pose any major threat.

Mumbai next face FC Goa on November 25 while NorthEast take on Kerala Blasters the next day.

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