A 48,721-strong crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday was witness to defending champions Atlético de Kolkata’s thrilling 4-1 victory over FC Pune City that sealed them a place in the semi-finals of the 2015 Hero Indian Super League. A splendid treble by Canadian forward Iain Hume and a late strike by Dejan Lekic helped the home side become the first team this season to reach the semis with 23 points from 13 matchs . Adrian Mutu scored the solitary goal for the visitors who now will have to win their next two matches to have a chance.
Both teams stepped into this crucial tie with three points on their mind. A well-contested first half brought out the best of both the teams’ attacking squads. The breakthrough for the home side came in the ninth minute when Jaime Gavilan shot a long ball right ahead. Arata Izumi met the ball and passed it to Hume and the Canadian drove it home to put ATK ahead.
The 22nd minute saw FC Pune City come unnervingly close to drawing level against the 2014 champions when Mutu, off a Tuncay Sanli pass, tried to blitz one past custodian Amrinder Singh but it ended up hitting the post.
ATK went from strength to strength in the second half. ATK skipper Borja Fernandez adeptly tossed the ball right into the Pune box, and Hume, this time with an acrobatic strike, doubled the lead in the 48th minute.
The Canadian striker went on to score his third in the 83rd minute, his second hat-trick this season. From a Sameehg Doutie assist, a speeding Hume found the back of the net and became the second player after Stiven Mendoza of Chennaiyin FC to score two hat-tricks this season.
Despite 3-0 down, the Stallions refused to give up and their efforts bore fruition in 86th minute when Mutu, their marquee signing, pulled one back. Pune’s hopes got up a bit in the wake of the goal but Lekic’s goal in added time of the second half sealed a thumping victory for ATK.