Kerala Blasters squandered a lead once again as Mumbai City FC came from behind to win 2-1 at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim, on Wednesday.
After missing many chances, Adam Le Fondre's 67th-minute penalty proved decisive after Bipin Singh (46') had earlier canceled out Vicente Gomez's first-half goal (27').
Kerala made three changes as Bakary Kone, Prasanth Karuthadathkuni and Yondrembem Denechendra found places in starting XI, while for Sergio Lobera's Mumbai, Adam Le Fondre, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, and Cy Goddard were given a start.
The first half was action picked, and saw a goal, missed chances, and some goalkeeping heroics from both teams.
It started with Raynier Fernandes, who came close in the eighth minute but his shot from outside the box went just over the bar. A few minutes later Le Fondre had a great chance to open the scoring -- he danced his way past two Kerala defenders, but his shot from a narrow-angle beat both the keeper and the post. Le Fondre was handed yet another chance when Hugo Boumous pounced on a loose pass, drove forward, and set Le Fondre through but the Englishman shot wide.
While the strikers were misfiring for Mumbai, their goalkeeper was at his best. Amrinder Singh had three superb saves to deny a Kone header, a Rahul KP close-range effort, and a spectacular Jordan Murray long-ranger.
From the corner that resulted out of the Murray save, though, Kerala took the lead. Sahal Abdul Samad whipped in a lovely inswinger to the near-post, where Gomez eased away from his marker and headed in.
Kerala went into the break with that one goal lead.
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But it took just twenty three seconds for Mumbai to draw level at the start of the second half. Le Fondre set Goddard free on the right and the latter had a shot at goal. However, it took a deflection and went towards Bipin at the far post, who found the back of the net from a tight angle.
Kerala kept pressing but Amrinder stood strong. The keeper continued to frustrate their opponents as he denied Murray and Rahul once again.
At the other end, Mumbai were awarded a penalty when Costa Nhamoinesu fouled Le Fondre in the box. This time, Le Fondre didn't make a mistake as he smashed the ball past Albino. Mumbai managed to maintain their one-goal lead till the final whistle to extend their lead at the top to six points.
Kerala Blasters, meanwhile, remain marooned in ninth, with 15 points in 16 games. They play fellow strugglers Odisha FC next on the 11th, while Mumbai take on Goa on the 8th.