Delhi Dynamos and Mumbai City FC shared the spoils in an entertaining 3-3 draw in a game of two halves at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
Two goals from Krisztián Vadócz gave Mumbai a 2-0 lead in the first half as they led for large parts of the game, forged chances at will, and struck the woodwork twice, but eventually contrived to throw two points away, as a Richard Gadze-inspired Delhi fought back to seal an unlikely draw.
A goal from Richard Gadze in the 51st minute had put Delhi back into the game before a cheeky finish from returning Sony Norde restored Mumbai's two goal advantage. Goals from Badara Badji in the 76th minute and a penalty from Marcelinho in the 82nd minute completed the comeback.
Delhi were unbeaten going into the game, but with two draws from their last two matches, the momentum, strictly speaking, was not in their favour. Mumbai themselves were coming off their first defeat of the season, against Kerala Blasters, but showed no signs of fatigue or disappointment, as they looked lively right from the off.
Delhi, armed with a 4-1-4-1, had most of the ball, but their high line was an invitation for Mumbai's dynamic front four to get behind the defence, and Sony Norde, Matias Defederico, Leo Costa and Kristian Vadocz all obliged.
Mumbai had little possession - only 39% of it in the first half - but they made maximum use of it, managing 13 shots to Delhi's five.
While Delhi passed and passed without purpose or incision, Mumbai broke forward with speed and aggression. Delhi just could not deal with the movement of Defederico and Costa, who created plenty of chances for the visitors.
Lalhmangaihsanga Ralte, Anwar Ali and Costa himself spurned good opportunities to open the scoring, but it was only a matter of time before the first Mumbai goal. It was the 33rd minute, when Costa sliced open the Delhi defence with an inch perfect pass to Vadocz, whose run from the deep was perfectly timed, and his first-time finish was sublime.
The visitors only had to wait five more minutes to double their lead. Norde's free-kick from the edge of the box rattled the Delhi crossbar, the rebound fell to Vadocz, who was once again on hand to head into the unguarded net.
If Delhi were disjointed at the back, they were toothless up front. A speculative long-ranger from David Addy was the closest they came to scoring, and their half was summed up when Marcelo Perreira, their best player, made a hash of a simple cross and sliced it for a goal kick.
Delhi were two down, deflated, and completely outplayed going into the break. They needed something - a moment of magic or a slice of luck - early in the second half to kick-start an unlikely comeback, and Richard Gadze provided it.
Marcelo appeared to be offside when he received a pass from Addy on the left, but the linesman's flag stayed down, and Marcelo, now through on goal, squared it to Gadze who tapped home from close range.
The hosts were suddenly sparked into life, and pushed forward with a much higher tempo. Gadze's batteries in particular appeared to be recharged by the goal, as he found more strength and pace to his game, bulldozing past the entire Mumbai defence only to be halted by a last-ditch tackle.
Delhi were buoyed, but with several of their players ghosting forward for an equalizer, the danger of a Mumbai sucker-punch was always present.
Norde was one such threat, constantly tricking his way past defenders and setting up his strike partners for glimpses at goal. He was eventually rewarded for his graft in the 69th minute, exchanging passes with substitute Brito Alves before slotting home at the near post. Alves' flick-on to find Norde was breathtaking, and the well-worked goal appeared to be the cherry on what was a rather delicious Mumbai cake.
Mumbai were dominant and played the game on their terms for 76 minutes, but succumbed in the final 14 to their biggest nemesis of the night - complacency.
Their defence, relatively resolute till then, was switched off when Gadze had all the time in the world to thread the needle to Badara Badji, who did well from a tight angle to steer the ball past the keeper. Mumbai's Lucian Goian dived to save the ball from going into the net but it was all in vain.
Delhi were once again within sight of a point, and 3-2 became 3-3 when Gadze, ever the menace inside Mumbai's box, fought off two challenges before being brought down by Roberto Tigrao. The contact was minimal, but it was enough for the referee to award a penalty, and Marcelo duly stepped up, converting from the spot for his third goal of the season.
The drama did not end there, though. Mumbai, furious with themselves for letting two points slip away, played with more urgency for the final few minutes. Defederico, whose engine was on full throttle all match, took on the tiring Delhi defenders and pulled the trigger from behind the box.
Defederico's dribble and execution were on point, but luck wasn't, as his effort crashed against the left post. All night, Defederico was a step above the other players on the field, but did not have the goals or assists to show it.
In the 95th minute, with seconds left on the clock, Mumbai's best player once again made a surging run into the box, before being pulled back by Ibrahima Niasse. The referee blew the whistle, and Defederico looked up, hoping for a last-second penalty. Instead, he was carded for simulation.
It summed up Defederico's night. It summed up Mumbai's. It summed up Delhi's.