Chennai: Substitute Leo Costa scored a screamer just two minutes from time as Mumbai City FC rescued a point against Chennaiyin FC with a 1-1 draw in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament here on Wednesday.
Jeje Lalpekhlua`s second-half strike seemed like it would be enough for Chennaiyin FC to edge past Mumbai City FC and move joint top alongside Atletico de Kolkata at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Mumbai never seemed into the game until Costa came off the bench to score a wonderful long ranger in the 88th minute to win Mumbai`s first ever point in the ISL against Chennaiyin FC.
The draw left Mumbai City on the second spot with 12 points, the same as leaders Atletico de Kolkata, while Chennaiyin FC have 10 points in their kitty and are sandwiched between Delhi Dynamos in third and NorthEast United FC in fifth, both with the same points.
In four previous clashes between the two teams, Chennaiyin FC had emerged triumphant in all games and for most part of their last clash, seemed like the better side.
With chief coach Marco Materazzi suspended for this clash for his `misconduct against opponents or persons other than match officials` as defined by the AIFF Disciplinary Committee, the defending champions took it upon themselves to continue their dominance over the visitors.
For the opening 45 minutes, Chennaiyin FC dominated but could not break the deadlock. Maurizio Peluso was in fine form up front and seemed to create the best chance for Jeje in the 14th minute when he slid a ball to the Indian striker but Gerson Vieira did well to come from behind and clear the ball.
Peluso then had Mumbai goalkeeper Albino Gomes at full-stretch to keep a free-kick away in one of the six shots that Chennaiyin had in the first session.
Mumbai City did not have any shot on target in the first session but marquee player Diego Forlan did come close in the 36th minute. The veteran Uruguayan striker made space for himself just outside the box and let go of a powerful shot which Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr did well to tip over for a corner.
Chennaiyin FC had their noses in front in the second session. Peluso`s corner-kick should have been cleared by the Mumbai defence. But two defenders simply watched and another one missed the flight of the ball, allowing Jeje space to head the ball past the goalkeeper in the 51st minute.
The defending champions should have killed the match in the 72nd minute but Dudu Omagbemi missed from close range. Jeje had shown remarkable composure to win the ball, hold on to it and then slide it for Dudu who could not beat the onrushing goalkeeper.
Mumbai City made the best use of that let-off and found the equaliser in the 88th minute. Leo Costa took the ball from about 25 yards out and launched a powerful left-footer which found the top corner of the net, past a diving Kerr.