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The Hat-trick | 10-man Jamshedpur Hold Mumbai City in ISL; WSL Title Race Hots Up; Barcelona vs PSG in UEFA Champions League Last-16

The Hat-trick (Top Football News of the Day): Bartholomew Ogbeche scored for Mumbai City FC while Nerijus Valskis found the target for Jameshdepur FC, who played almost an hour with 10 men after Aitor Monroy's red card | Four-way tussle -- between Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City -- spices up the Women’s Super League (WSL) title race -- FC Barcelona vs PSG Clash headlines UEFA Champions League last-16 fixtures.
Mumbai City vs Jamshedpur FC

Action during the Mumbai City FC vs Jamshedpur FC Indian Super League (ISL) match on Monday (Pic: JFC Twitter).

Mumbai City FC were unable to unlock the tight Jamshedpur FC defence despite playing with a numerical advantage for a little over an hour in their Indian Super League (ISL) match on Monday. With the result -- a 1-1 draw -- Mumbai City remained on top of the standings with 13 points from six matches while Jamshedpur moved up to sixth with seven points.

Nerijus Valskis gave Jamshedpur the lead in the ninth minute. Bartholomew Ogbeche equalised for Mumbai a quarter of an hour into the match. Things looked evenly poised before Aitor Monroy was red carded (following a second yellow in the match) the 28th minute. From then on, Sergio Lobera’s Mumbai were pushing for a victory, while Owen Coyle’s men put in everything to snatch a point.

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"Fantastic point. We were worthy of it. Some decisions are beyond a joke. Our schedule is six games in 19 days, but fantastic spirit from my boys,” said Coyle after the match. 

Coyle went on to admit that Mumbai are the strongest side in the league.

 “Mumbai will always have possession even with 11 vs 11,” he said. “We scored a fantastic goal and it was part of our plan.”

Of course the best of play by Coyle went out through the window after Monroy was sent off. The coach complained that his players were always getting a raw deal. 

“I am frustrated for my players but they deserve better than what they are getting from the officials,” said Coyle. “[You saw] Some of the stuff in the previous games. What's going on? We need to get the officials right when we have the best players and coaches coming to this league. There was a reason we had foreign officials in the league last year. It affects others’ livelihoods. We are five unbeaten but coming against a team like Mumbai, the young boys stood up to be counted."

Mumbai coach Lobera praised the grit shown by the Jamshedpur FC players.

“We played against 10 players for a long time. They played well defensively. We had our changes but finally we needed to score but it didn't happen,” said Lobera. “We need to put all our focus on the job We needed to manage the situation better.”

Mumbai City began well but it was Jamshedpur who scored first, against the run of play. Jackichand Singh intercepted Ogbeche’s back pass and entered the box from the right side before squaring it to Valskis. The 2019-20 Golden Boot winner slotted the ball home for the lead. 

Ogbeche made amends for his mistake quickly, scoring the equaliser in the 15th minute from Bipin Singh’s pass. Adam Le Fondre built the move and found Bipin inside the box with a pass from the left flank. Bipin switched the ball to Ogbeche who comfortably found the back of the net with a first-time shot. 

Following the red card in the 28th minute Mumbai City, as expected, dominated proceedings while Jamshedpur were happy to sit back. 

WSL Title Race Hots Up

Manchester United are the surprise leaders, ahead of title contenders Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, as the Women’s Super League (WSL) gets set to go into the winter break.

Man United have 23 points from nine matches, while nearest rivals, second-placed Chelsea have 20 from eight matches. Arsenal, despite faring poorly against the top clubs in the league, are still in the title reckoning because of a string of great results against teams outside of the WSL top four. The Gunners are third with 19 points from nine matches. City, with 18 points, are in fourth spot in the 12-team league.

While nearly half of the season is done, it may not be until March or April when things really start to change. Both Chelsea and Man City could get preoccupied by the latter rounds of the Champions League. That could hand both United and Arsenal an advantage.

“[Balancing the Champions League with the WSL] is tough for anyone, especially in the women’s game where we don’t have a private jet,” Arsenal defender Leah Williamson said earlier this year. “It does take its toll.”

Chelsea and City, meanwhile, are already facing the demands of scheduling while doing the Europe vs home balancing act. Both the clubs played their first games of the new European season last week, winning at Benfica and Goteborg respectively.

The various factors at play and the ultra competitive nature of the top sides at the WSL means that the latter part of the league would throw up quite interesting matches. The title race itself would be an interesting affair with sides following different philosophies of the game, and playing for outright victories and nothing else.

CL Draw Confirmed, Barcelona Face PSG Test

The post arrived an hour after the announcement. On any other day, in any other situ\ation, the words in the post and the image chosen would have provoked fresh speculation about the future of the greatest players Catalonia has ever seen, but yesterday it was less an invite and more a threat. Neymar Jr. hugging Lionel Messi and the words ‘see you soon my friend’ serving as a caption. As threats go it was more in the style of Quentin Tarantino than Al Pacino. Implied via memory.

Except, this memory isn’t supposed to be bad for Barcelona. Since that fateful, mind bending night in the Camp Nou three years ago much has changed. La Remontada they called it. The comeback. And since then, Barcelona have been stuck in a loop of their own creation. Before that night no team had ever come back from a four goal deficit to win a UEFA Champions League tie. Since then, in consecutive seasons, Barcelona have themselves thrown away three goal leads to collapse and whimper out of the tournament (we shall not discuss the whipping by Bayern, or what may be christened, La Regresa). And now, this. Barcelona vs PSG in the first knockout round of the Champions League.

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As obvious storylines go, this is borderline cliche. Their last encounter not only served up a classic it was also a dress rehearsal for Neymar. His best performance in a Barcelona jersey. It is easy to forget now but he scored two goals and laid on that crucial assist for Sergi Roberto that day. He was monumental and game changing in the manner that has been predicted for him since he was a teenager. And a few months later he was gone. To the team he had helped destroy. 

When he does return it will be with a different looking PSG, to a completely changed Barcelona. It is to a club where the roof is literally falling in. Somehow for some reason the book makers have listed them as favourites but there is no way they will feel so themselves. It may well be Messi’s swansong in Barcelona colours in the Champions League: an era gone. 

There are other tasty ties in the mix too. Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea may well be called the Diego Costa Derby. RB Leipzig vs Liverpool is guaranteed fireworks and Real Madrid vs Atalanta will serve up the shocker for the round. Remember, you read it here first.

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