Mumbai: Nigerian striker Muritala Ali scored a hat-trick to help Mahindra United complete the first phase of their I-League campaign with an emphatic 4-0 rout of Air India in the all-Mumbai Derby encounter at the Cooperage football ground here today.
Ali, who scored his second hat-trick of the season after achieving a similar feat against Goa`s Salgaocar, struck in the 41st, 49th and 58th minutes after his striking partner Mohd Rafi headed in Mahindras’ tally opener in the 10th minute off a left cross from Debabrata Roy.
Ali notched his first goal off a pass from Paresh
Shivalkar, his second goal was a result of a corner that came
to him via Thoi Singh while he took advantage of a rebound
from a try by Rafi off AI custodian to complete his hat trick.
After a series of four drawn encounters, Mahindras, who
dominated the clash with fine passing, smooth movement and
mid-field control, bounced back strongly with this victory to
get their title challenge back on track and also took their
points tally to 14. Standing third in the table, the jeepmen
are yet to lose a tie.
Languishing third from bottom, AI (five points) are still
searching for their first win at home.