Mumbai City FC hammered ATK 3-1 to qualify for the semi-finals of the Indian Super League at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan. Forward Moudou Sougou netted a 35-minute hattrick (26′, 39′, 60′) in what was a stellar display after he returned to action.
Andre Bikey headed in a consolation goal in the 67th minute, but the hosts could not find a way back into the match and were now out of the reckoning for a place in the playoffs.
The win took Mumbai to the third spot on the table with 30 points while ATK remained at the sixth position with 21 points.
A midfield battle ensued in the first half as both teams looked to keep possession of the ball. ATK started the match well but Mumbai soon stamped their authority, showing efficiency in the attacking third.
Pranjal Bhumij skipped past his marker on the left flank and crossed into the centre for Sougou in the 21st minute. The Senegalese’s first touch took Arnab Mondal out of the equation, but Andre Bikey cleared the ball before the striker could find the net from a close range.
However, Sougou managed to get the better of the ATK defence in the 26th minute. Paulo Machado won the ball in Mumbai’s half and initiated a counter-attack from the right. Bhumij received the ball forward and lobbed it behind the ATK defenders to find Sougou who placed the ball into the net past goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya.
Thirteen minutes later, Mumbai again hit ATK with an incisive counter-attack. Edu Garcia gave the ball away outside the Mumbai box and Souvik Chakrabarty released Issoko down the right flank. The winger found Sougou in the centre of the box with a delightful cross and the Senegalese slotted home from a close range to double Mumbai’s lead.
ATK went close to pulling one back just before the break, but Mumbai custodian Amrinder Singh pulled off a finger-tip save to parry away Kalu Uche’s shot from inside the box.
Uche had another chance but failed to beat Amrinder from close range, allowing the Mumbai defence to clear the ball.
At the hour-mark, Paulo Machado released Sougou behind the ATK defence and the striker scored his 12th goal of the season with an emphatic finish by putting the ball beyond Arindam’s reach.
ATK pushed players forward in search of a way back into the game. Pritam Kotal delivered a good cross into the centre of the box and Bikey’s powerful header found the net in the 67th minute.
(With IANS Inputs)