‘Mehtab’s red card was turning point of the match’

Mumbai City FC boss Des Buckingham is mighty impressed with his team’s performance despite 0-2 defeat against Al-Hilal in the AFC Champions League tie at the DY Patil Stadium on Monday.

The win for the Saudi side ensured Salem Al-Dawsari-led Al-Hilal lead Group D with 10 points. From the four matches they have played in the tournament, they have won three and drew one. At half-time the score was 0-0. In the 62nd minute, Al-Hilal’s Michael Delado scored the opener. In the 85th minute, Serbian Aleksandar Mitrovic scored the second goal for the visitors. Earlier, in the 58th minute, Mumbai City FC defender Mehtab Singh was sent off after he made a tackle from behind on Al-Hilal’s Ruben Neves and received his second yellow card. “I am very happy with what I have just watched. I think we played the best team in Asia and until the send-off, we put on a very good show. I spoke to the coach [Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus] after the match and he was very complimentary of the performances of the players, and how the team set up to make it very difficult for them. It’s a lot of hard work from my players,” said Buckingham.

When asked if Singh’s red card was the turning point in the game, Buckingham replied: “When you play this type of team, it’s very difficult when you have eleven players, so when you go down to ten it becomes more difficult, because they have more ground and space. I think it’s clear that the send-off was a turning point. When players of this quality have more space, they are very dangerous.”

The home team’s coach explained that Singh has learnt his lesson after the red card. “I just spoke to Mehtab. It’s a learning experience for him. I think the yellow card was probably a little harsh. I think the referee didn’t realise that he had booked him already. He [Mehtab] has to understand that on a booking, you can’t go to the ground the way he has. You have to learn from those mistakes,” he said.

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