Defending champions Bengaluru FC returned to the top of the I-League 2017 table as they defeated Mumbai FC 3-0 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday evening.
CK Vineeth scored the first ever hat-trick in the club's history (45+1'), (57') and (65') as he joined Darryl Duffy atop the scorer's standings with four goals in three appearances.
Even though the traditional Bengaluru - Mumbai rivalry revolved around the 'bandage-gate' controversy, it was the first time since both teams met without having either Ashley Westwood or Khalid Jamil at the helm.
That though, did not deter the Blues' fans to shout their lungs out with boisterous chants engulfing the entire stadium.
However Santosh Kashyap managed to silence the home crowd with his shrewd tactics to keep the ball away from the defending champions and force errors from the home side and the plan seemed to have been working wonders for the majority of the first half.
The frustration showed as most of Bengaluru's incisive moves in the opposition area resulted in wasted opportunities. Udanta Singh, who had an off-day in the last game after scoring a brace in the opening week continued from where he left off last time around, lacking spark.
Skipper Sunil Chhetri also went rather anonymous in the first half as Bengaluru struggled to create any notable chance. However this was only before Vineeth had something to say about the situation.
As the end of the first half loomed near, Harmanjyot Singh Khabra called on Laxmikant Kattimani's reflexes into action. The custodian had to make a quick save as the former East Bengal skipper headed in from an inch-perfect flag-kick drilled in by Cameron Watson.
However it was the Blues who had the last laugh with the stubborn Mumbai resistance finally broken in injury time. Udanta nutmegged his marker to lay it to Watson whose cross was met by an unmarked Vineeth who made no mistake and smashed home on the volley completely foiling Santosh Kashyap's half time team-talk.
Post the breather, Kashyap was delighted seeing Reagan Singh take a shot from the edge of the box which made Amrinder Singh exercise his muscles, as Mumbai looked for a way back into the match.
Vineeth though had other plans. Khabra overlapped Udanta Singh and his cross from the right saw the former Prayag United marksman slot the ball in with his first touch from point-blank range, recording his brace only three minutes from the hour mark.
Kattimani again had no chance as Vineeth completed his hat-trick only eight minutes after his second. Khabra's lob was controlled brilliantly by Vineeth and he shifted the ball to his other foot before smashing it to the left bottom corner.
With the result virtually in his bag, Roca threw in Sandesh Jhingan into the mix with the Kerala Blasters man making his debut for the side.
Late into added time, it could have been worse for the visitors as Lenny Rodrigues' pass saw substitute Roby Norales getting his shot on target. Kattimani parried it away to only see a round of pinball in the box but thankfully for the goalkeeper, the ball tamely went out of play.
Bengaluru marched to nine points, leapfrogging Mohun Bagan over superior goal difference.
Kashyap's winning start to the league was ended as Mumbai fell down to the fifth spot, ready to host fourth-placed Aizawl in the weekend. Meanwhile, Roca faces his first ever away I-League game at Barasat on Sunday against East Bengal.