Kalyani: A rampaging Mohun Bagan mauled Neroca FC 6-2 for their fifth straight win in the I-League, here on Friday.
Fran Gonzalez headlined the drubbing with a first half hat-trick (10th, 24th and 45th minute), while Fran Morante (13th), Baba Diawara (37th) and Alexander Romario Jesuraj (70th) scored once each in the rout.
Mohun Bagan were reduced to 10 players after captain Dhanachandra Singh was sent off for handling a goal-bound ball at the one-hour mark.
Nigerian frontman Philip Adjah (41st) and Subhash Singh (45+2nd) scored for the Imphal outfit as the first half saw seven goals in front of an exited Kalyani Stadium crowd.
It was also for the first time in the I-League that seven goals were scored in the first-half.
Unbeaten in the last 10 matches, the 2014-15 champions looked set for a second title in their last I-League season, with a massive 11-point lead over Minerva Punjab (18) atop the standings.
Neroca FC languished at the bottom with 12 points from 13 matches with relegation threat looming large.
Eight goals, two missed penalties, a hat-trick and a red card — the game had it all.
Seven of the eight goals and a missed penalty came in a fascinating first-half and it was all started by Gonzalez as early as the 11th minute.
Fellow Spaniard Joseba Beitia was in top form, registering a hat-trick of assists in the game, setting up Gonzalez.
The former also played a part in Morante’s goal, as he sent in a corner that was controlled at the far post by Komron Tursunov, whose shot was nodded in by Morante.
The carnage continued as ex La-Liga striker Diawara got into the act, creating the fourth for himself.
Off a throw-in by Ashutosh Mehta, Diawara played on V P Suhair who ran into the box to send a cross-back for the Senegalese to score with a perfectly connected side-volley.
Goalkeeper Marvin Phillip, who had a good game otherwise, thwarting many of Mohun Bagan’s 12 shots on target, had no answer.
In between, Gonzalez also missed a penalty which was saved superbly by Phillip.
Neroca got their first when Varun Thokchom played Adjah from inside his half and the burly Nigerian went off on a solo run holding off his marker and unleashing a powerful drive once inside the box to beat Roy.
Bagan responded immediately with Gonzalez completing his hat-trick.
At the hour mark, Dhanachandra took one for the team as he was red-carded for stopping Ronald Singh’s overhead kick from going in, with his hand.
This was after Adjah had beaten Sankar with a top of the box strike, only to hit the crossbar, and the rebound had fallen to Ronald.
The referee had no option but to give Dhanachandra the marching orders.
And for the second time, a penalty in the game did not end up in the back of the net, as Adjah’s effort missed the target.
Mohun Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna immediately sacrificed Komron Tursunov, who, like all Bagan players, had been having a brilliant game, for Gurjinder, to bolster the defence.
His second substitution — the dynamic Nongdamba Naorem for Romario Jesuraj — scored with his very first touch, dashing all hopes of a Neroca fightback.
Earlier, both the teams’ players observed silence, paying homage to the 40 martyrs of the Pulwama Attack on its first anniversary.