Mumbai City FC brushed aside NorthEast United FC in the highest-scoring match of Hero Indian Super League 2015 so far, thanks to a Sunil Chhetri hat-trick and second half strikes from Sony Norde and skipper Frantz Bertin at the DY Patil Stadium on Wednesday evening. A strike from Boithang Haokip drew momentary parity for NorthEast but it just turned out to be a consolation goal for the visitors in a thoroughly dominating performance from Mumbai, which takes them to second in the Hero ISL table.
In-form striker Nicolas Velez looked lively from the outset. The South American forward nearly squeezed in an effort eight minutes into the match. Velez should have given NorthEast United FC the lead three minutes later but he failed to find the target after Mumbai keeper Subrata Paul had brilliantly parried away an initial effort from the right side of NorthEast’s attack.
The visitors were made to pay for their failure to convert their chances in the 25th minute. The referee punished Carlos Lopez for handling inside the box by awarding a penalty to Mumbai City FC. And for the second game running, Chhetri stepped up to convert without hesitation. India’s all-time top goal-scorer stepped up and dinked TP Rehenesh with a panenka penalty.
NorthEast United FC hit back five minutes after falling behind. The Highlanders shocked the local faithful and stunned them into silence. Known as the David Beckham of NorthEast, Boithang Haokip did justice to that tag. His in-swinging free-kick from the right found its way past Mumbai’s wall and beat Paul at his near-post to restore parity for the Highlanders.
The hosts almost restored their lead seven minutes before half-time when Pavel Cmovs headed at goal from a Mumbai corner. His header rattled the bar as NorthEast United FC breathed a sigh of relief. The goal wasn’t far away though.
It was Chhetri was again who was in the right place at the right time. Norde did brilliantly to find Subash Singam in the box who headed square across the box where Chhetri stood unmarked to tap the ball into an open net and help Mumbai go in at the break leading by two goals to one.
Chhetri became the first Indian to get a hat-trick in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) three minutes into the second half courtesy of another penalty. Andre Bikey was adjudged to have handled inside this time and Chhetri stepped up and converted again like a man with ice in his veins. With his sixth goal, he joined Chennaiyin FC’s Stiven Mendoza as the joint-highest goal-scorer.
The hosts were out of sight three minutes later when they made it 4-1. Norde was next to get his name on the scoresheet by scoring his first Hero ISL goal after flooring Rehenesh with a fake before calmly finishing to put the Highlanders on the ropes.
Chhetri could have had his fourth of the night in the 56th minute, only to be denied by the Highlanders’ goalpost. It was all Mumbai City FC for the remainder of the game as players cued up in hope of getting a goal themselves.
Bertin put the icing on the cake three minutes before the end of normal time when he strutted in unchallenged inside NorthEast’s penalty box from a corner to head in his side’s fifth of the night and make it 5-1 as the Mumbai ran away deserving victors with a scoreline that rightly underlined their superiority in the match.
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