Sunil Chhetri became the first Indian to score a hat-trick in the Indian Super League as Mumbai City FC thumped NorthEast United FC 5-1 at Navi Mumbai's DY Patil Stadium yesterday.
Mumbai City FC's Sunil Chhetri celebrates scoring the second goal yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
Chhetri thus became the third player to score a treble in an ISL match, after Mumbai City FC's Andre Moritz (last season against FC Pune City) and Chennaiyin FC's John Stiven Mendoza (this season against FC Goa).
Two of Chhetri's three goals came from the penalty spot while Haitians Sony Norde and Frantz Bertin scored the hosts' other goals to help them climb to the second spot in the standings with 10 points while the visitors stayed in seventh.
Mumbai's assistant manager Oscar Bruzon heaped praise on Chhetri after the game. "He's exceeded our expectations. Our initial idea before the season started was to play Sunil on the left flank like he does for his I-League club Bengaluru FC. But because of Sony, who also wants to play in the same position, we played him in the centre. He's smart and a hardworker.
"He's ready to play in the best leagues of Europe. Most foreigners in the ISL are coming from the top leagues and he's one over them," he said.
Mumbai opened the scoring in the 25th minute as Chhetri latched onto a loose pass from a NorthEast defender before releasing Singham Subash Singh. The winger's cross from the right hit the outstretched arm of Carlos Lopez inside the box. Chhetri stepped up and dispatched a cheeky 'Panenka' penalty to make it 1-0.
The visitors hit back almost instantly as Mumbai's Darren O'Dea handled the ball outside the box. Haokip's resulting freekick from the right flank beat Paul comprehensively.
Mumbai regained the lead after Norde crossed the ball from the left to Subash whose cross across the face of the goal found Chhetri, who had the easiest tap-ins.
In the 47th minute Mumbai earned another penalty, this time due a handball by Andre Bikey in the box. Chhetri bundled his penalty into the bottom left corner. Mumbai completed their rout as Norde's cornerkick was headed into goal by an unmarked Frantz Bertin.