Skipper Paulo Machado led from the front as Mumbai City FC defeated Bengaluru FC 1-0 in an entralling Indian Super League game on Sunday.
Machado's stunning goal in the 29th minute was the difference between the two sides as Mumbai grabbed three points in their first game post the winter break.
After Sunday's win, Mumbai and Bengaluru are on top of the league table with 27 points each, though the home side have played 13 matches, one more than the visitors.
This was the first time tailsmanic Sunil Chhetri was playing after being conferred with coveted Padma Shri award, but it was Machado, who, instead stole the limelight at the Mumbai Football Arena.
Both the sides began on an aggressive note and Bengaluru created two chances inside the first seven minutes but both the shots sailed above the bar.
In the fifth minute, Mumbai's Arnold Issoko lofted the ball from a distance but experienced Bengaluru custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu collected it safely.
The best chance for Bengaluru came in the 16th minute. Kean Lewis chipped in the ball inside the box and Spaniard Xisco Hernandez took it on the volley but Mumbai goalkeeper Amrinder Singh tipped it above the bar ensuring that Bengaluru did not get the lead.
Chances kept coming for the visitors thick and fast as they continued attacking the Mumbai goal but failed to covert any of them.
Mumbai went 1-0 up against the run of play in the 29th minute, courtesy a stunning goal from Machado.
After Bengaluru's corner kick was cleared by Issoko, Brazilian Rafael Bastos led Mumbai's counter attack. Bastos played the ball brilliantly to Machado. A calm and composed Machado ran in from a distance and struck with his right foot as the ball slotted into the left corner of the post.
Bengaluru had a chance to equalise when they earned a free kick minutes later but that was safely thwarted by the home team's defense. At the half way stage, Mumbai were 1-0 ahead.
After the change of ends, Mumbai kept attacking and so did Bengaluru. Mumbai could have gone 2-0 up, but Modou Sougou's running shot was saved by Gurpreet with a dive to his right.
Bengaluru were unable to breach Mumbai's strong defence as the home side extended their unbeaten run to nine games in the league.
Amrinder, on the other hand, maintained a clean sheet for the home side, with some stunning saves.