Mumbai City FC and FC Goa played out an action-packed goalless draw in the Hero Indian Super League clash after both the teams failed to score on many occasions at the D Y Patil Stadium in Mumbai on Monday.
The two teams had also been locked in a goalless stalemate in the first-leg encounter in Goa on November 9.
The drawn game kept Mumbai in fifth spot in the table with 12 points while the visitors too remained in seventh spot with 9 points, two better than bottom-placed Delhi Dynamos.
Incidentally this was also Mumbai’s third successive goalless draw in the league.
In a fast-paced opening half, Mumbai dominated play through the major portion of the first half with French ace Anelka spelling constant danger up front after some lovely work in midfield by two other foreigners in the team – Brazilian Andre Moritz and Czech Jan Stohanzl.
But they lacked sufficient support from the likes of Subash Singh, who wasted a few gilt-edged chances, and Lalrindika Ralte.
Goa came into the picture late in the second half after an initial foray. The latter half saw both teams having an almost equal share of exchanges.
The opening salvo was fired in the fourth minute by the visiting team when Mandar Dessai shot over the crosspiece from the left after using Brazilian midfield mate Andre Santos to run into the penalty box.
But thereafter the Goa team’s players were left chasing their rivals. In the sixth minute Anelka volleyed the ball over on the run after outrunning his marker and compatriot Gregory Arnolin.
Six minutes later the home team got its first corner award which went waste as Czech defender Pavel Cmovs left footed on the turn wide of the post.
A dangerous run from their own half by Stohanzl after outsprinting three rival players also went fruitless in the 18th minute as his minus pass from the byline found no takers.
Soon afterwards Subash Singh blasted wide a shot after being fed superbly by Moritz.
Goa’s Gabriel Fernandes tried a shot from outside the penalty area which almost beat Subrata Paul under the Mumbai bar before the India goaltender, who has kept a clean record in the last four games, dived to his right at the last minute and tipped the ball wide of the post.
Four minutes from half time came the best chance of the session. Ralte was let free by his rival marker off a superb, defense-splitting through pass by Moritz, but the Indian player’s left-footed shot did not carry enough punch or angle to beat rival custodian Jan Seda who dived and blocked the ball with his body.
Just before this Goa had two shots at the goal through Frenchman Younness Bengelloun, scorer of a brace of goals against Delhi Dynamos before this game, and Australian Tolgay Ozbey, which tested Subrata Paul.
Mumbai brought in fit-again Moritz for Tiago Ribeiro in their starting eleven while Goa replaced Peter Carvalho with Gabriel Fernandes.
After the change of ends, skipper Roberto Pires started asserting himself and the Goa attack gathered pace. Off one such move Pires passed to an unmarked Ozbey on the right of the box. But before he could connect Mumbai defender Peter Costa foiled him.
Then Mumbai started to hold sway for a while. Anelka’s weighty, floated pass from the right flank was headed over the bar by Moritz.
Soon after, Mumbai replaced the disappointing Subash with Nadong Bhutia while their rivals brought in Afghan Haroon Fakhruddin for Frenchman Pires. Later Goa substituted Gabriel Fernandes with Romeo Fernandes.
The game started to get rough with Mumbai’s Pavel and Goa’s Gregory being booked by referee M B Santosh Kumar for deliberate fouls
With seven minutes left in the game, the impressive Moritz – scorer of a hat-trick on his debut game at this venue against Pune – almost broke the deadlock with a pile-driver of a left-footed try which shook the cross bar and rebounded into play.
At the other end it was the turn of Goa’s Ozbey to strike the woodwork as his left-footed shot from just outside the box hit the right post and came back into play.
Later Paul had to dive and prevent a close-range shot from substitute Romeo Fernandes.