Bhubaneswar: India captain Sunil Chhetri struck a hat-trick as Bengaluru FC beat Neroca FC 3-1 to book a semi-final spot in the inaugural Super Cup football tournament Bhubaneswar on Friday.
Chhetri scored in the 13th, 55th and 90+4 minutes while Pritam Singh (45+3) pulled one back for Neroca.
Bengaluru FC, the losing finalists of the Indian Super League (ISL), now face I-League side Mohun Bagan in the semi-final on 17 April.
The game began with Bengaluru FC pressing hard for an early lead but the I-League side from Manipur put up a solid defence to thwart the opposition attacks.
Bengaluru were soon rewarded for their consistent attacks in the 13th minute through a cross from the left flank from Udanta Singh that was duly punched out by Neroca goalie Lalit Thapa but Chhetri was there to nod the ball home with a spectacular header.
Neroca thereafter made a few moves in the opponent's box but the lack of quality crosses and some good saves by Bengaluru goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh denied the Imphal outfit an equaliser.
Neroca struck back with an equaliser in the stoppage time of the first half, when a mistake from Gurpreet, with the goalkeeper not collecting the ball properly, saw Pritam (45+3) finding the net.
Bengaluru FC pressed hard right from the start of the second half. They struck soon through their captain Chhetri again in the 55th minute.
Neroca had sealed their quarter-final spot by defeating Kerala Blasters FC after coming from behind but they could not really repeat the feat on Friday. Their hopes were shattered in the dying moments of the match when Chhetri struck his third goal of the game.
Updated Date: Apr 14, 2018 14:42 PM