Mumbai City FC started their AFC Champions League with a 3-0 loss to Saudi Arabia's Al Shabab, who marked their return to continental football after a seven-year absence with an emphatic victory at Riyadh.
A double from Argentine Ever Banega (36' penalty, 68') was complimented by substitute Turki Al Ammar (77') as Marius-Ninel Sumudica's men registered a clean sheet at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium on Friday night.
Mumbai City FC manager Des Buckingham employed the traditional 4-4-2 formation with Phurba Lachenpa in the goal. He had young Vikram Pratap Singh and Cassio Gabriel together at the top while Ahmed Jahouh and Apuia were holding the midfield. The back four comprised Rahul Bheke, Mehtab Singh, Mourtada Fall and Mandar Rao Dessai while Bipin Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte were on the wings.
A valiant effort from #TheIslanders ��
- Mumbai City FC (@MumbaiCityFC) April 8, 2022
The Saudi side wasted no time in taking the game to their opponents, and inside two minutes goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa was forced into making his first save after Hattan Bahebri broke free down the left and squared for Nawaf Al Abid whose left-footed effort was rescued by the tip of the Mumbai City goalkeeper's gloves.
Halfway through the opening period Al Abid was presented with a golden chance to open the scoring when he was sent through on goal by a sublime Carlos pass, and he attempted a dinked finish past the goalkeeper, but his effort passed just wide off target. Al Shabab thought they had opened the scoring in the 28th minute when Bahebri's shot from the edge of the box had two deflections before falling for Ahmed Sharahili with the goal at his mercy, but the centre-back fluffed his lines from a few yards out.
Banega scored his first-ever AFC Champions League goal to give the Saudi side the lead nine minutes before the break. The Argentine stepped up to send Lachenpa the wrong way from the spot after the Mumbai City goalkeeper had brought down Carlos inside the box. Lachenpa continued his heroics after the break, denying Carlos a certain goal after the Brazilian was set up by a Banega through ball, but the Indian goalkeeper produced a fine save with his feet.
Al Shabab doubled their lead in the 68th minute after a nice passing exchange between Al Abid and Abdullah Al Jouhi saw the latter pull back for Banega who controlled and calmly finished from the edge of the area for his second of the night.
Substitute Al Ammar made it three for the Riyadh-based side with 13 minutes to go after he got on the end of a Fawaz Al Saqour-cross from the right foot, finishing in style with the outside of his left foot to extinguish any doubts.
Mumbai City are the second Indian club after FC Goa to make it to the group stage of the AFC Champions League. They next face three-time AFC Cup winners Air Force Club of Iraq.
MCFC vs Al Shabab (10.45 PM, April 8)
Al Quwa Al Jawiya vs MCFC (10.45 PM, April 11)
Al Jazira vs MCFC (10.45 PM, April 14)
MCFC vs Al Jazira (10.45 PM, April 18)
Al Shabab vs MCFC (1.45 AM, April 23)
MCFC vs Al Quwa Al Jawiya (1.45 AM, April 27)
The LIVE telecast will be on Disney+ Hotstar/Star Sports.