Captain David Castañeda’s hat-trick powered Sreenidi Deccan to a dominating 3-0 victory over bottom-side Sudeva Delhi FC in a 2022-23 I-League match at the Chhatrasal Stadium, here on Wednesday.
Castañeda struck at the half-hour mark before adding another two in the second half to net the first hat-trick of this season’s I-League. The Colombian striker has now amassed nine goals already in just eight matches. Sreenidi Deccan themselves have scored 17 goals, seven more than any other side.
The visitors approached things a bit cautiously from the start, but their pace advantage in the final third allowed them to settle into the game quickly.
Rosenberg Gabriel was a livewire on the right wing for Sreenidi and was involved in the visitors’ first half-chance of the game. The youngster sent a looping cross for Songpu Singsit at the far post, but his header lacked the pace to trouble Sudeva goalkeeper Kabir Kohli, who collected easily.
Singsit missed another heading opportunity at the half-hour mark, failing to make a decent connection with Faysal Shayesteh’s corner from six yards out.
The breakthrough for Sreenidi Deccan arrived in the 34th minute after a couple of mistakes at the back from the hosts. Asraf Ali Mondal’s high cross slipped through the fingers of goalkeeper Kohli before Basit Ahmed Bhat failed to clear the loose ball. It finally fell to Rosenberg and the Indian squared it for an unmarked David Castañeda in the middle, who only had to slot it into the open goal.
Things went from bad to worse for Sudeva Delhi as centre-back Nishchal Chandan went down holding his right thigh on the stroke of half-time and had to be replaced by Sukhandeep Singh for the second half.
The Rosenberg-Castañeda connection unlocked the Sudeva Delhi defence yet again at the hour mark. Rosenberg, operating on the left wing after the change of ends, burst into the hosts’ penalty area before rolling an inch-perfect cross for Castañeda at the far post, and the Colombian made the simplest of tap-ins from point blank range.
With time running out, Sudeva Delhi were denied an opportunity to pull one back by visiting goalkeeper Ubaid CK, who was making his first appearance of the season. Japanese substitute Misawa Tetsuaki showed quick feet to evade a couple of Sreenidi challenges before pulling the trigger from the edge of the box, but Ubaid dived low to make a great fingertip save.
As Sudeva committed numbers forward in the dying minutes, the Deccans tried to pounce on the counter. After racking up two assists, Rosenberg almost wrote his name down on the scoresheet as his first-time shot from Castañeda’s deflected cross hit the post.
There was still enough time for Castañeda to complete his hat-trick. In the 87th minute, substitute Ramhlunchhunga swung in a brilliant cross from the right, which was expertly headed into the back of the net by the Sreenidi Deccan skipper as Kohli’s feet remained rooted on the goalline.
The result lifted Sreenidi Deccan to the top of the table with 16 points, level with Real Kashmir but the Snow Leopards have a game in hand. Sudeva Delhi, on the other hand, are yet to open their account and remain in last place.