Leader Mumbai City FC posted an easier than expected 2-0 win over Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League here on Wednesday.
Despite being in a must-win situation, Chennaiyin seemed to be low on urgency and failed to beat the defence marshalled by Lucian Golan.
Mumbai got its goals through Argentine Matias Defederico and Hungarian Krisztian Vadocz on either side of the breather.
The margin would have been much bigger, but for misses by Sunil Chhetri and Thiago Cunha.
Diego Forlan played within himself, yet made an impact with his assist for Vadocz, a direct free-kick curled tantalisingly close to the post and effortless passing.
Mumbai cruised to a sixth win in 13 games, ahead of the pack with 22 points.
Chennaiyin (14, 12 games) slid further from a place in the top four.
Forlan attracted attention, from the defenders and from the fans, for the style in which he pulled off three goals in the previous game.
Chhetri, the designated second striker, was expected to take avantage of a backline distracted by the presence of the marquee player from Uruguay.
Jeje Lalpekhlua was excluded from the visitors’ line-up, giving the home team defence some respite.
Wadoo slogged on the right flank to get the ball past MCFC defence, his floated balls ended up in the custodian’s hands.
Riise made no impression with two free-kicks.
The probing from both sides went on till the 32nd minute when the stands erupted. Vadocz set off the move with a relay to Chhetri, whose neat lay-off to the right saw Defederico arrive on time to side-foot high into the net.
A reckless challenge from the side by Hans Mulder on Vadocz on the edge of the box resulted in a free-kick for Forlan to display his expertise.
The captain stepped up and looped the ball around the wall. Karanjit in the Chennaiyin goal read the move in time to dive and deflect the ball away.
Chhetri had a quiet game, except for the pass to set up Defederico and a snap effort from far.
The game went off the boil on resumption, frequency of fouls disrupting the flow.
Forlan on the ball set off excitement in the stands behind the rival post. However, he preferred to bring teammate Chhetri into play with a long, crossfield pass than attempt a long-ranger. The tall defenders covered the striker well.
Chennaiyin slipped further when Karanjit Singh’s desperate dive to his right went in vain, the volley fired by Vadocz flew off his fingers into the net.
Materazzi threw in fresh legs Dudu Omagbemi and Daniel Lalhlimpuia in last gasp effort, but to no avail.
Chhetri got to the end of balls lifted out from the midfield twice, the first time his shot was blocked by a defender, the second found him blasting over a left-footed shot on the run.
The results: Mumbai City FC 2 (Matias Defederico 32, Kristian Vacocz 60) bt Chennaiyin FC 0.