MUMBAI: Sunil Chhetri struck the first ever hat-trick by an Indian in the Hero Indian Super League as Mumbai City FC demolished NorthEast United FC 5-1 in Mumbai on Wednesday.
The win was Mumbai City’s third in a row and takes them to the second spot with 10 points, just two points behind leaders FC Pune City, who defeated them in the opening game.
Chhetri is now the joint highest goalscorer with six goals alongside Chennaiyin FC striker Stiven Mendoza. He also becomes the first Indian player to score six goals in the competition and also the first Indian to score in three successive matches.
Chhetri scored in the 25th, 40th and 48th minute of play with two of his three goals coming through penalties. Haitian midfielder Sony Norde opened his account after he found the back of the net in the 51st minute for Mumbai’s fourth goal, while Frantz Bertin hammered the final nail in the 87th minute.
Boithang Haokip had briefly given NorthEast some hope when he restored parity for the visitors in the 29th minute.
Mumbai City and NorthEast United both had scored two victories in a row and were looking to complete a hat-trick of wins. Playing at home, Mumbai City took the early initiatives and surged ahead through a penalty in the 25th minute after Subhash Singh’s ball was handled by Carlos Lopez. Chhetri made no mistake from the spot.
NorthEast were back in the game within four minutes as Haokip’s freekick from the left somehow sailed past Mumbai goalkeeper Subrata Paul who was guarding the first post.
Mumbai, though, did not have to wait for long to regain the lead. Norde did well to keep the ball with him and then cross it for Subhash, who headed it across the goal where Chhetri was on hand to turn it into the empty goal.
Early in the second session, Mumbai City stretched their lead, again from the spot. NorthEast defender Andre Bikey was adjudged to have handled Chhetri’s mistimed overhead kick and the India captain, for the second time, beat TP Rehenesh from the resultant penalty kick.
Norde, who has been involved in most of Mumbai’s goals, scored one of his own in the 51st minute as he latched on to a through ball, then took his time to see what the goalkeeper was doing and calmly lobbed the ball into the goal.
There was still time for Mumbai to score another goal as an unmarked Bertin added his name to the scoresheet in the 86th minute when he headed home Norde’s corner-kick.