Mumbai: In-form Nicolas Anelka scored his second goal of the tournament to help Mumbai City FC beat Delhi Dynamos 1-0 in a keenly-contested match of the Hero Indian Super League at the DY Patil Stadium here on Wednesday.
The win helped the hosts zoom up to third spot on the table with nine points from six games while the visitors, who have six points in the kitty, slipped to the sixth position.
Mumbai City FC made a nervous start as the Delhi side kept possession for major periods of the first half.
Syed Rahim Nabi, for the second time in the tournament, picked up an injury early on and was forced off with Peter Costa coming on to replace him. Nabi's injury pegged back the Mumbai side as the visitors moved the ball around well with Delhi's Steven Dias causing a few problems for the hosts from the right with his runs and crosses.
Mads Junker was, however, unable to get on the end of any of them as Mumbai custodian Subrata Paul came bravely off his line a few times to thwart any danger. As the half progressed, Mumbai slowly began to get into the groove.
Jan Stohanzl collected the ball in midfield, ran towards the goal and unleashed a thunderous effort that sailed over the bar. Lalrindika Ralte tested Delhi goalkeeper Kristof Van Hout a few minutes later with a shot from a distance, but the tall Belgian goalkeeper made a comfortable save.
The closest either team came to scoring was when Andr Moritz picked up the ball and threaded it through to Anelka on the left who lobbed a beautiful pass across the goal to an unmarked Subash Singh who fluffed the chance.
After the change of ends, Mumbai came out firing on all cylinders while Delhi were content to play the waiting game. But just when Delhi went for the offensive, Mumbai City FC scored from a counter-attack in the 59th minute.
Stohanzl collected the ball in the midfield and released Subhash down the right who lobbed the ball over a defender on to the onrushing Anelka, who placed it past van Hout into the top left corner with a sublime left foot touch.
Stung by the goal, Delhi replaced ineffective Junker with marquee player Alessandro Del Piero but the move hardly made any impact. Mumbai were in an unrelenting mood as they continued to pile on the pressure.
Del Piero wasted a golden opportunity to level the scores when he met Dias' cross with a header that went just wide. With two wins on the trot, a confident Mumbai will now face FC Goa in an away fixture on Sunday, while Delhi travel to Kochi to meet Kerala Blasters on the same day.