Marquee footballer Diego Forlan scored the first hat-trick of this Hero Indian Super League (ISL) as Mumbai City FC hammered Kerala Blasters 5-0 to go top of the table at the Mumbai Football Arena here on Saturday.
The veteran Uruguayan striker struck twice inside the first 14 minutes and then completed his hat-trick in the second session as Mumbai City ran riot against the in-form visitors, who had come to Mumbai after two consecutive wins.
Mumbai led 2-0 at the break and added more goals through Brazilian midfielder Cafu and Lucian Goian.
The big victory took Mumbai City to the top of the table with 19 points from 12 matches, leaving Kerala Blasters stuck in third spot with 15 points from 11 matches.
Mumbai City have both their remaining matches at home and will feel confident that they can do enough against Chennaiyin FC and Delhi Dynamos to take them to the play-offs.
On Saturday night, it was all about Forlan, who helped Mumbai City register their biggest win at home.
The Uruguayan striker started his goal-rush in the fifth minute as he picked-up a lob from Defederico, beat the off-side trap, then sidestepped defender Sandesh Jhingan and coolly placed the ball past goalkeeper Graham Stack.
Forlan had provided glimpses of his class all through the league but his goal in the 14th minute from a free-kick was worth high praise.
Minutes after testing the goalkeeper with a long ranger, Forlan made it 2-0 as his curling free-kick from just outside the box found the top corner.
Kerala Blasters did not have too many chances in the opening 45 minutes and Mumbai goalkeeper Amrinder Singh did not have any save to make. All that Kerala Blasters threw at the goalkeeper were long, hopeful shots which were not on target.
Forlan completed his hat-trick in the 63rd minute. From a goal-mouth melee, Jhingan's header fell for Cafu just outside the box and the Brazilian immediately set-up Forlan on the left. The Mumbai City star man lost no time in slotting the ball into the goal for ISL's first hat-trick this edition.
Forlan was immediately substituted for some much-needed rest but Mumbai City continued with their goal-scoring ways.
Cafu scored a gem of a goal with his left-foot in the 69th minute after accepting a pass from Defederico and running his way past two defenders and then Goian completed the rout in the 73rd minute as he jumped high and powerfully headed a corner kick from Defederico.
The embarrassing defeat left Kerala Blasters in a precarious position and they will now need to win two of their last three matches against Pune City, Atletico de Kolkata and NorthEast United FC to be assured of qualification.