Mumbai City FC outplayed NorthEast United FC by 4-1 at the Mumbai Football Arena (MFA) to go up to 39 points and strengthen their position at the top of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 points table on Tuesday.

Vikram Partap Singh struck the back of the net thrice to become only the sixth Indian in ISL history to notch a hat-trick, and the second youngest Indian to do so in the league after Kiyan Nassiri Giri’s feat against East Bengal FC in January 2022.

It was an absolutely overwhelming show put on by the Islanders, who registered their fourth victory in their last six matches to further their formidable run towards retaining their ISL League Winners Shield title. They held a firm grip over the proceedings throughout the 90 minutes, with Vikram striking in the third and tenth minute and for the third time in the 80th to ensure that the home team pushed the Highlanders back consistently across the entirety of the match.

The 22-year-old first hit the ball past NorthEast United FC goalkeeper Gurmeet Singh thanks to Dutch midfielder Yoell van Nieff. Keen to assert their gameplay from early on, van Nieff caught the Highlanders aback with a swirling delivery inside the box that lobbed past their defence and was received and hammered home by an alert Vikram in front of the goal.

Vikram outwitted the NEUFC defence in the box tonight, sniffing opportunities consistently and drilling deliveries home with impeccable finesse. He was helped with an equally industrious frontline. Bipin Singh teased the NorthEast United FC backline by shooting fiercely with his left foot, but the shot could only rattle and rebound off the crossbar.

The ball couldn’t make its way past Vikram though, who jumped upon the chance and capitalised on it with an easy tap-in to double their lead. His chance to secure the hat-trick in the first-half didn’t materialise, as Redeem Tlang fouled Akash Mishra inside the 18-yard box in the added time of the opening essay of the match.

Van Nieff assumed responsibility from the spot, and cleanly clobbered the ball into the left side of Gurmeet to help Mumbai City FC head into the half-time break with a 3-0 lead for only the fourth time in the last 10 years of the ISL. Vikram rounded off his hat-trick with a shot that demonstrated his striking instincts to the core in the 80th minute though, with a dazzling Lallianzuala Chhangte barging into the NorthEast United FC box and squaring up an assist that was slotted into the goal by a buoyant Vikram.

A minute before that, the visitors had salvaged some pride with Jithin M.S. scoring through a sweet strike off an assist by Gani Nigam. However, Mumbai City FC responded immediately through the counter that resulted in Vikram’s hat-trick. NorthEast United FC is now placed ninth in the standings, with 20 points from 19 games and their playoff qualification chances took a big hit. To make matters worse, youngster Parthib Gogoi was sent off with a red card in the added time of the second half.

Key Performer of the Match

Vikram Partap Singh (Mumbai City FC)

Vikram completed 17 out of his 24 passes, crossed once, intercepted twice, made four tackles, in addition to his hat-trick to cap off a resounding individual performance.

What’s next for both teams?

Mumbai City FC will next play against Hyderabad FC on April 1. NorthEast United FC returns to action against Kerala Blasters FC on April 6.

Brief Scores

Mumbai City FC 4 (Vikram Partap Singh 3’ 10’ 80’, Yoell van Nieff 45+7’) – 1 NorthEast United FC (Jithin M.S. 79’)

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