A stunning goal from Nicolas Anelka helped Mumbai City FC to pip Kerala Blasters 1-0 at the D.Y. Patil stadium on Sunday.

“I am absolutely delighted with the way my boys played. We had taken part in a lot of video sessions and concentrated on getting our defensive tactics in order. Our priority was to keep it tight at the back. We were too open in the last game and paid the penalty. Once we got the goal, I knew that Kerala would come at us, but we defended superbly. My boys performed their roles beautifully and I cannot be happier for them,” the Englishman said on Sunday night after his side’s win.

He credited the midfielders and the defenders and said the victory was deserved.

“We defended as a unit. Everyone knew where to be and how to get the game flowing into the opposition half. We counter attacked brilliantly once we managed to snuff out any potential dangers. I do not remember Subrata Paul having to make a decent save all game, which shows that we denied them any room to create goal scoring opportunities.

“My defenders and midfielders took joint responsibility and made sure that we finished with three points. It was a clinical and professional performance, worthy of a victory,” the former Manchester City manager said.

Reid also praised French striker Nicolas Anelka, who scored the lone goal of the match, and said the team was fortunate to have him.

“He is a top class player. What a free kick that was! If you noticed, Kerala were trying to stifle him by surrounding him every time he got the ball. We had made a conscious decision to play him further up the pitch today so that he could get on the end of things. Players of his age like Didier Drogba are playing for top clubs in the Premier League. Our team is very lucky to have him here,” he said.

Although pleased with the team’s performance, Reid felt they could have scored a few more goals.

“We could have won by more than one goal. Kerala were caught on the break so many times towards the end of the game.

If Subhash (Singh) could have finished off the chance that Anelka had created, then I would have been a happier man,” he said referring to a sitter that the Indian forward missed in the 74th minute.

Kerala Blasters’ marquee player and coach David James said his former Manchester City colleague’s goal made all the difference.

“It was a scrappy game, a game decided by one brilliant free kick. We knew that Anelka would be the main threat and we had planned to counter that, but when he puts the ball in the back of the net from a free kick like that, there is hardly anything you can do. We were comfortable two minutes before half—time but then we gave away the free kick on the edge of the box.

“It was frustrating to go into the break a goal down. The boys worked their socks off and put in a real shift out there. I am proud of them,” the former England goalkeeper said.

James, who had extricated himself from the game and had handed over the custodianship to Sandip Nandy, revealed that he had sustained an injury leading upto the game.

“I picked up a knock and decided not to take a chance. I think I took the right decision to pull out,” he said.

He said the experience of watching the game from he sidelines was frustrating.

“It is strangely frustrating. There are times when you want to run onto the pitch and help your team and play for your team. But managing from the sidelines gives you a clear perspective. You judge situations better and your decisions are not clouded. I think I was happy with the substitutions I made today, but then, when you have played previously, it tends to get a bit frustrating when things are not going your way,” he said.

Having played five away games, Kerala Blasters will now play their first home game against FC Goa on November 6, and James hoped that his team could put up some good performance in front of the home crowd.

“We have not played a single home game yet. We are so impatient to travel to Kochi and play in front of our fans. I am sure that their support and encouragement shall give us an added edge and hopefully, we can string together some good results which in turn shall push us up the table,” he said.

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