Forlan fires Mumbai to the top with hat-trick against Kerala
Mumbai City FC brushed aside Kerala Blasters FC 5-0 in front of more than 7,000 fans at the Mumbai Football Arena on Saturday evening. Two goals from Diego Forlan gave Mumbai a 2-0 first-half lead. The Uruguayan legend completed his hat-trick shortly after the hour mark before goals from Cafu and Lucian Goian provided the icing to the cake as Alexandre Guimaraes’ men went to the summit of Hero Indian Super League 2016.
The hosts took the lead five minutes into the game after Forlan found himself in on goal courtesy of a brilliant through-ball by Matias Defederico. Mumbai’s marquee man ran onto the pass and executed a clinical first-time finish to give his side the lead.
Forlan tried his luck from range soon after but this time his effort was parried behind for a corner by Graham Stack in Kerala’s goal. Stack was helpless in the 14th minute though when Forlan executed a direct free-kick from just outside the box to perfection, making it 2-0 for Mumbai inside 15 minutes.
Mumbai kept dominating possession as the Blasters struggled to get into the match. Forlan had another shot from range on the half hour mark, which took a slight deflection before being saved by Stack.
Kerala had an opportunity to pull one back five minutes before the break when Didier Boris Kadio attempted a lob from the edge of the box. His effort had Amrinder Singh scrambling in goal. However, it just went above the crossbar to the relief of the Mumbai shot-stopper. Antonio German shot wide with his right foot from just outside the area two minutes later as the visitors went in for the half-time interval two goals down.
Thongkhosiem Haokip was introduced as a substitute at the start of the second half and the youngster caught the eye immediately. Mumbai nearly added a third in the 51st minute thanks to another direct free-kick from a threatening position. Forlan’s attempt had beaten Stack in goal but went tantalisingly wide of the target as the score remained 2-0 in favour of the hosts.
Defederico then cut in from the right flank and beat two defenders before getting his shot away in the 57th minute. However, Stack came off his line quickly and narrowed down the angle for the Argentine to keep his side in the game with a strong save.
CK Vineeth shot goal-wards in the 62nd minute after a Kerala corner made its way to him at the far post. However, his shot on target was well saved by Amrinder. Mumbai sealed the points a minute later as Forlan scored his third of the night as well as the first hat-trick of the season.
A poor clearance by Kerala’s defence was pounced on by Cafu inside the penalty area. The Brazilian midfielder passed to Forlan, who finished in composed fashion through Stack’s legs to make it 3-0. Cafu got his name on the scoresheet in the 69th minute when he collected a Defederico pass before running at Mumbai’s defence and sending a left-footed shot whistling into the top corner to make it 4-0.
It was 5-0 shortly after Goian produced a powerful header from a Defederico corner to add insult to injury for Kerala with 17 minutes still to go. Sunil Chhetri nearly added a sixth when Defederico put him in behind the Blasters’ defence in the 80th minute but India’s all-time top-scorer’s attempted dink was saved by Stack as Mumbai went top of the league with the biggest win of the season.
Club award: Mumbai City FC
Amul Fittest Player of the Match: Lucian Goian
DHL Winning Pass of the Match: Matias Defederico
Maruti Suzuki Swift Moment of the Match: Cafu
ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Sehnaj Singh
Hero of the Match: Diego Forlan