Aizawl: Ranti Martins struck a hat-trict as East Bengal made a late rally from a two-goal deficit to beat a 10-man Aizawl FC 3-2 in an I-League football match here.
Brandon Valpuia (19th minute) and Yuta Kinowaki (58th) scored for the home side before Ranti Martins struck in the 69th, 85th and 88th minutes to secure all three points for East Bengal here.
Aizawl were done in by a direct red card shown on their key defender Emmanuel Chigozie in the 67th minute, and East Bengal, trailing 0-2 then, grabbed with both their hands the numerical advantage and pumped in three goals through Ranti to win the match.
East Bengal started the match by testing Aizawl goalkeeper Soram Poirei with two shots at goal within the first two minutes. There were a lot of half chances created by both teams in the opening few minutes but no considerable damage was done.
Egged on by the partisan crowd, Aizawl began to dominate the match and they were the far better side in the first half.
Valpuia broke the deadlock in the 19th minute using an assist from Japanese midfielder Yuta Kinowaki who sent a curling ball in from the right. Alfred Jaryan went past his marker to feed the ball towards winger Valpuia who did no mistake beating East Bengal 'keeper Luis Barreto with a right footer from the left corner of the box.
A minute short of the break, Brandon had an opportunity to double the lead for Aizawl but Barreto came calling with an important save.
Aizawl FC scored their second goal two minutes from the hour mark. Lalram Chullova released Yuta Kinowaki inside the six yard box as Bernard Mendy failed to get onto the end of the ball. Kinowaki lobbed the ball past a hapless Barreto.
With a 2-0 lead, it looked like a huge upset win was on the cards in the small hill station town but the match turned on its head in a dramatic fashion after Aizawl's Nigerian defender Emmanuel Chigozie was shown a direct red in the 67th minute for bringing down compatriot Ranti in a rather harsh tackle inside the box.
The ensuing spot-kick was converted by Ranti as he sent Poirei the wrong way, depositing the ball into the right corner of the net.
East Bengal took the advantage of numerical superiority to the hilt. Calvin Lobo, who replaced Mehtab Hossain in the first half, and Harmanjot Khabra appeared more confident in creating chances for their team-mates upfront as the visitors had found a new purpose.
Five minutes from regulation time, Ranti restored parity.
Bikash Jairu's darting run from the left followed a pin point cross into the box where Ranti guided the ball into the net with a powerful header.
Two minutes later, East Bengal found the winner through Ranti yet again from a Mohammed Rafique assist.
Right on the 90 minute mark, Aizawl's Lalram Chullova was given marching orders for a second booking, compiling on the agony of the home side who were reduced to nine men.
With today's triple strike, Ranti went atop the scoring charts with 11 goals.
East Bengal now have 20 points from 11 matches, two points adrift of leaders and arch rivals Mohun Bagan as well as Bengaluru FC.