| Three-goal hero Mike Okoro (left) gets a pat from Shasthi Duley Saturday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta, Feb. 8: The Goliaths in East Bengal proved too powerful for the Davids of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as the National Football League leaders cantered to a 4-1 victory at Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday.
Mike Okoro struck thrice to join Mohun Baganís George Ekeh as top-scorer with ten goals, while Suley Musah hit one as East Bengal widened the gap between them and second-placed Salgaocar by seven points with 30 from 12 matches. Kenneth Onu reduced the margin for HAL, who have seven points.
In the 21st minute, a M. Suresh through from the centre pierced the defence and Alvito DíCunha collected the ball on the left. His minus found Okoro, who tapped in from close. East Bengal did not wait too long for their second. Musah beat the off-side trap following a deft 38th-minute lob from Arun Malhotra into the box. He blasted home an angular right-footer.
Musah earned a penelty just before halftime, which was converted by Okoro. He ensured there should not be any other contender for the Man-of-the-Match award, when he scored his third in the 75th minute.
EAST BENGAL: Sandip Nandy; Arun Malhotra, M. Suresh, Dipak Mondal, Douglas de Silva Santos; Alvito DíCunha, Suley Musah, S. Venkatesh (Chandan Das, 78), Subhas Chakraborty (S. Malsawmtluanga, 64); Mike Okoro (Dipankar Roy, 84), Shasthi Duley.
HAL: Subhas Kumar; Santosh Kiran, Mehraj-din Wadoo, Oniya Obinnawinners, Dayanand, Abjeet; Rajendra Prasad (Mahendra Mani, 45), Jagdish Kumar (Prahlad Rawat, 80), Isfaq Ahmed, Kenneth Onu; Raja Baliev Nurlan. Referee: B.K. Singh (Bihar).
Churchill, Mahindra win
In Margao, Churchill Brothers moved to 20 points with a 2-0 win over Dempo, adds PTI. Yusif Yakubu scored both goals. Dempo also have 20 points. In Bangalore, a 90th-minute penalty conversion by Jose Damasio helped Mahindra United beat ITI 1-0. The win lifted Mahindra to 13 points and left ITI on three.