News Live Scores
AFC Champions League

Mumbai City FC edge Iraq's Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya to become first Indian club to win in ACL

1:12 PM GMT+8 12/04/2022
Rahul Bheke Mumbai City
Rahul Bheke made the difference for Mumbai City...

Mumbai City FC made an entry into the record books as they defeated Iraq's Air Force Club 2-1 in a Group B AFC Champions League encounter at the King Fahd Stadium on Monday evening. India international Rahul Bheke scored the winner to become the first Indian to find the net in the prestigious competition after Diego Mauricio equalised Hammadi Ahmed's opener in the 70th minute.

It was a gritty win for the Indian Super League (ISL) side as their opponents had 19 shots compared to just five of the Islanders. The iSlanders were lucky not to concede a penalty in the ninth minute when Phurba Lachenpa brought down Alaa Abbas inside the box. However, Mourtada Fall put in a captain's performance and kept his body on the line to block on numerous occasions.

The Iraqi outfit came out firing on all cylinders in the second half to tilt the match in their favour. They were moving the ball quicker and their shots on goal had more purpose. Finally, in the 59th minute, they had their nose in front when substitute Hammadi Ahmed found the net. Shareef kept going in the left wing and passed on to Hadi. The midfielder played a brisk give-and-go with Ahmed before pulling the trigger. Fall made the block but the rebound fell for Ahmed, who made no mistake to score past Lachenpa.

But Des Buckingham's men had enough fire in their belly to stage a historic comeback. In the 68th minute, Bipin Singh intercepted a pass from right back Ali Kadham and set up Diego Mauricio. The Brazilian tried to bulldoze past the guilty player, who in a desperate attempt to stop the striker stuck out a leg to concede a penalty. Mauricio took the responsibility from the spot and scored by shooting straight down the middle.

Mumbai found a spring in their step after coming back on level terms. They kept their attacking momentum and earned a corner. Ahmed Jahouh swung in a delightful ball within the six-yard box and Bheke leapt the highest to steer home the ball. His jump was timed to perfection and the header was powerful enough to ripple the far bottom corner of the net.

In the final quarter of the match, Al Quwa threw everything they had at Mumbai City but the Indian team dug deep and weathered the storm to clinch one of the most famous wins in Indian football history. They are currently second in the group with three points from two matches. The ten group winners and the six best runners-up across East and West divisions make it to the knockouts of ACL. It remains to be seen whether Mumbai can add a few more glorious pages to their history at the end of the group stage.

They will next face Al-Jazira FC on April 14.