Hyderabad FC once again proved their title credentials with a stunning attacking display against hapless NorthEast United at PJN Stadium in Fatorda, Goa on Monday. (More Football News)
A win 5-0 win, their seventh in this season, helped Manolo Marquez's men take a four-point lead at the top of the ISL 2021-22 table. Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters are second and third with 22 and 20 points respectively, but both sides have two games at hand.
Usual suspect Bartholomew Ogbeche gave an early lead with a third-minute strike. Akash Mishra then made it 2-0 in the first-half injury time. Ogbeche increased the lead with his second at the hour mark.
Nikhil Poojari (84') and Edu Garcia (88') scored two late goals to complete the route.
After failing to score in their 0-1 defeat against Kerala Blasters, Hyderabad have pumped in 13 goals in the next four games for one draw (1-1 vs Chennaiyin FC) and three wins -- 4-0 vs East Bengal, 3-2 vs Odisha FC and tonight's 5-0 vs NorthEast.
This was NorthEast's ninth defeat this season in 15 matches. They have also shipped in 33 goals for a negative -15 goal difference. In contrast, Hyderabad have scored 33 goals.
Nigerian Ogbeche, who once led NorthEast, added fuel to debate on whether he is the league's finest striker with a poacher's brace on either side of halftime. The 37-year-old now leads the scoring charts with 49 strikes, overtaking Indian legend Sunil Chhetri and Spaniard Ferran Corominas Telechea. The brace on Monday also took his season tally to 14.
It took Hyderabad three minutes to nose ahead and Ogbeche was at the right place at the right time, slamming home a rebound after Joao Victor's header pinged off the post and fell kindly for the red-hot Nigerian.
It was all Hyderabad after the first goal as they dictated the game and kept pressing the NorthEast United backline.
In first-half added time, Hyderabad made it 2-0 with Akash Mishra scoring his second goal in as many games, heading in a Joel Chianese corner from the left side home with aplomb.
For NorthEast United, a brief spell of possession, with Marco Sahanek conducting the show, did not bear much fruit as they went into the break trailing 0-2.
Ogbeche doubled his tally at the hour mark, further underlining his credentials as the league's best marksman. Joel Chianese whipped in a cross but Subhashish Roy Choudhury dealt with the danger only to see the ball sent back in towards the far post. Chianese headed the ball into the path of Ogbeche, who nodded low with the ball scraping past the keeper and into the net.
Chianese deserved a goal for all his industry and almost had one after he got free from his marker but drilled his effort inches wide of the target.
There was drama in store as a Suhair Vadakkepeedika strike was disallowed thus denying the Highlanders even a consolation goal.
Poojari piled on the misery for NorthEast United, getting on the scoresheet from a substitute Sahil Tavora set up. It then became 5-0 as Garcia got minutes before the final whistle.
NorthEast face Kerala Blasters on February 4, while Hyderabad take on ATK Mohun Bagan on February 8.