Kolkata, Feb 14 (IANS) Laldanmawia Ralte scored a hat-trick as East Bengal sent a strong message to the title contenders by thrashing Shillong Lajong FC 5-0 in an utterly lopsided I-League encounter at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, here on Thursday.
The outcome saw the red and gold brigade that registered their fourth consecutive win move to third on the I-League table with 31 points in their kitty from 15 games. They are now three points adrift of league leaders Chennai City FC with a game in hand.
Ralte (8th minute, 27th & 61st) netted his first I-League treble combined with strikes from Joby Justin (28th) and Enrique Esqueda (45+1′) to ensure the hosts make short work of their lowly opponents and go into the Churchill Brothers tie on Sunday with a chance to take pole position.
East Bengal dominated the proceedings from the start and it took the home side just eight minutes to open their account as Laldanmawia converted a clinical header from Lalrindika Ralte’s corner.
Lajong could not make a single foray inside East Bengal’s half in the first 20 minutes of the match.
The home side doubled their lead in the 27th minute. Laldanmawia received a long ball from Borja Gomez on the edge of the box and then lobbed it over Phurba Lachenpa.
Jobby scored the third goal of the match after just one minute from Enrique’s assist.
Antonio Dovale put the the ball in Enrique’s path inside the box and the Mexican tried to lob it over Lachenpa who came advancing. Justin just connected his head to put the ball into an empty net.
Esqueda scored the fourth goal at the stroke of half time with a scissor kick from Didika Ralte’s long ball.
Coach Alejandro Menendez brought in Jaime Santos Colado in place of Esqueda in the 59th minute and once again the change worked for the team.
Kassim Aidara set up Jaime, who dribbled past one defender and squared the ball inside the box. A clever dummy by Justin in front of the goal allowed Danmawia Ralte to receive the ball and slot it home comfortably in the 61st minute.