Mahindra United went into overdrive to rout their perennial nemesis Air India 3-1 in the 19th round I-League local derby at the Cooperage in Mumbai on Saturday. The winners led 2-0 at half time.
Chidi Edeh, who has rediscovered his scoring boots late into the tournament, powered the jeepmen into the driver's seat with two superbly headed goals in the 23rd and 30th minutes off crosses from Sushant Mathews and Steven Dias respectively. Sushil Kumar Singh then made it 3-0 in the 56th minute, heading in a perfect cross from the incandescent Douhou Pierre.
Substitute Kailash Patil reduced the margin in the 93rd minute when it was all over bar the shouting. It was his debut goal in the tournament.
Mahindras now move to fourth position with 27 points (the same as Mumbai FC but with a superior goal difference) from their seventh victory while the airmen remain in ninth slot with 20 points.
The winners struck a purple patch right from the beginning and created chances galore. Had all been taken they could have well run up a tennis tally.
Edeh, who now has now a tally of eight goals in the championship, could have added one more late in the day but fumbled with only goalkeeper Swarup Das to beat. Substitute N P Pradeep struck the post in the 84th minute and four minutes later substitute Paresh Shivalkar blazed over from inside the box.
Air India, who are still in the relegation zone, looked totally out of sorts and had no idea how to stop the repeated raids by their inspired rivals who attacked from both the wings through Dias and Mohammed Rafi as well as through the middle courtesy some fine promptings by Pierre.
Thier first salvo came in the 7th minute when Air India custodian Swarup Das had to extend himself to save a stiff try from Sushil Kumar.
Subhas Singh and Michael Tayo then tested Mahindra goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Choudhury with two long rangers but after that Air India faded out. Two clinical finishes by Chidi soon thereafter put Mahindra firmly on the path to victory and there was no looking back.