After a flop show in his Indian Super League (ISL) debut, forward Sunil Chhetri came back with a power-packed performance on Wednesday netting a brilliant brace to steer hosts Mumbai City FC to a 2-0 win over Delhi Dynamos FC at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Mumbai.
India national team skipper Chhetri opened the scoring in the 13th minute itself and got his second in the 74th minute to power Mumbai to their first win of the edition.
With the win, Mumbai climbed from bottom of the table to the seventh spot, with four points from as many games, having lost two and drawn one earlier.
On the other hand, Delhi, who had earlier gathered momentum after three consecutive wins before this match, lost a chance to go top of the points table following the loss. It kept them in the second spot with nine points from five games, having lost one in their season opener.
Nicolas Anelka managed Mumbai went with a strong 4-4-2 formation for the crucial match. A total of five changes were made in the starting XI. Subash Singh, Juan Aguilera, Gabriel Fernandes, Aitor Lopez and Darren O'Dea replaced Ashutosh Mehta, Selim Benachour, Frederic Piquionne, Pratesh Shirodkar and Frantz Bertin.
On the other hand, Roberto Carlos, after three successive wins in their previous games, went in with a 3-5-2 formation by one change in their side. Zodingliana Ralte was left out due to injury, midfielder Sehnaj Singh came in for the Indian.
Delhi kick-started the proceedings for the night and both the sides looked aggressive from the word go.
Aiming to go ahead in the fifth minute of play, skipper Florent Malouda made the most of his experience to win the ball and shoot the ball on goal after exchanging a couple of passes from Gustavo dos Santos and Hans Mulder, but Mumbai goalkeeper Subrata Paul by diving to his left held on to the ball to deny the visitors a chance to go ahead.
But some positive play by the home side soon after yielded fantastic results as Chhetri's goal in the 13th minute helped them go 1-0 up.
Delhi midfielder Francisco Fernandes found Robin Singh who looked to pass on to Mulder but he was dispossessed by Mumbai midfielder Cristian Bustos. He found Sony Norde, who cut inside and shot the ball but was blocked by defender Anas Edathodika, eventually the ball fell for Chhetri who slammed it into the back of the net with ease beating goalkeeper Antonio Doblas Santana.
Delhi got the best chance to equalise in the dining minutes of the first half, when Mulder's powerful shot from outside the 30 yards box found Paul without much trouble.
As the first half whistle blew, Mumbai were rightly the better team creating a lot of chances against a poor defensive Delhi.
In the 66th minute, Mumbai got their best chance to double their lead, as Norde found Subash in acres of space. He shot from outside 35 yards but his effort came off the crossbar with Dynamos goalie being beaten.
The home fans didn't have to wait too long to celebrate for the second time, as Chhetri doubled the lead in the 74th minute. Chhetri chipped in perfectly in the right which saw Anas's poor clearance, as the ball finds Norde. The Haitian midfielder got beyond the defender to cross the ball to Chhetri who finishes it off in style.
From there on it was too difficult for the visitors to make a comeback into match as Mumbai defence and goalie Paul held on to have their first win of the season.
After the much needed win, Mumbai next face fourth-placed FC Goa on October 25 at home, while Dynamos meet third placed Atletico de Kolkata in an away match on October 29.