Mumbai City FC marquee footballer Nicolas Anelka scored his first goal of the Indian Super league (ISL) to help his side beat Kerala Blasters FC 1-0 at the D.Y. Patil Stadium here on Sunday. (Highlights | Matchcentre)
Anelka's goal helped Mumbai move up from the bottom spot in the points table to fifth with six points from five matches, just above Kerala, who have four from five games.
The first half was an evenly contested affair with both sides creating opportunities but couldn't quite show the composure to capitalise on the chances created.
Then Anelka chose to take matters into his own hands just at the stroke of half-time.
Kerala midfielder Ishfaq Ahmed brought down Mumbai midfielder Jan Stohanzl just outside the box to concede a free-kick that proved costly for the visiting team.
Veteran striker Anelka slammed the free-kick from 25 yards into the top corner to score in the 44th minute.
Mumbai went into the break with the lead and maintained the momentum in the second half, initiating a flurry of attacks to peg back Kerala.
Anelka was the focal point of their attacks and the Frenchman twisted and turned to show glimpses of his considerable skills with the ball to bamboozle opposing defenders.
He provided a perfect assist for the second goal, essaying a great cross inside the box to find Subhash Singh. But the Indian striker fired it above the crossbar, missing a golden opportunity.
The French striker was again in the thick of things by creating a couple of chances but was denied by goalkeeper Sandip Nandy on both occasions.
Just when it seemed Mumbai had clinched full points, substitute Nadong Bhutia nearly scored with a curling shot only to be denied by the crossbar.