I-League 2023-24: Eddie Hernandez Hat-Trick Fires Mohammedan Sporting Back In Form

(MENAFN- IANS) Naihati (West Bengal), Feb 13 (IANS) Honduran footballer Eddie Hernandez struck a hat-trick as Mohammedan Sporting shrugged off their blues since the restart to re-establish their form and function at the top of the I-League 2023-24 table with a 5-1 victory over a hapless Rajasthan United FC at the Naihati Bankimanjali Stadium on Tuesday.

Hernandez was the star of the day as he scored in the 27th minute, the 44th minute and the 88th minutes. Fanai Lalremsanga opened the scoring in the 21st minute while Mirjalol Kasimov converted a penalty in the 64th minute for Mohammedan Sporting William Pauliankhum struck in the 29th minute to reduce the margin for Rajasthan United as the winners led 3-1 at half-time. They pumped in two more goals in the second session to make it a rout.

With 31 points from 14 matches, the Kolkata side, who gathered only one point from their last two matches, remain the leaders in the points table. Rajasthan United are in ninth place with 15 points from 13 matches.

In a back-and-forth first half, Mohammedan Sporting started the stronger but somehow never seemed to display the stability that had defined them in the early weeks of the season.

In a sweeping move from back to front, Vanlalzuidika was played into space on the right in the 21st minute. His low fizzed cross found Lalremsanga who gathered, turned and shot with his left only to see Bhabindra Malla Thakuri pull off a brilliant diving save. Fortunately for the forward, the ball fell back to him and this time he finished into the far corner to give the home side the lead.

The league leaders seemed to have wrapped up the points with a second goal in the 27th minute, Eddie Hernandez finishing brilliantly after being played through by Bikash Singh. Within two minutes though Rajasthan struck back - almost against the run of play. Lalchungnunga's cross from the right found William Pauliankhum, whose first touch set up a finish in the roof of the net.

Just when it seemed like Mohammedan were in for a tough game, with Rajasthan in the ascendancy, Bikash and Hernandez combined to restore Mohammedan's two-goal cushion. The former's cross teed up a simple finish for Hernandez in the 44th minute and in worse news for the visitors, Thakuri pulled up injured immediately after.

There was to be no comeback though as Mohammedan put on a clinical show in the second half to wrap up the victory. A 64th-minute penalty - awarded for Amritpal Singh's blatant foul on David Lalhlansanga - was converted by Kasimov to extend the lead.

Hernandez completed his hattrick with a cool finish after being played through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, in the 88th minute to consolidate the points and bring Mohammedan's form back to where it was before the AFC Asian Cup enforced break.




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