Old hand Ranty proves worth with hat-trick in 5-1 win

United SC's star acquisition Ranty Martins fired in a hat-trick in their opening I-League fixture as they thrashed Air India 5-1 at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday. The Kolkata team challengers played with 10 players for 70 minutes after defender Bello Rasaq was sent off in thev first-half but they showed tremendous resilience to thrash the airmen.

In his first I-league appearance after switching from defending champions Dempo, Martins struck in the 13th, 32nd and 57th minutes while K Asif (65th) and C K Vineeth (80th) completed the rout. Mickey Fernandes provided the lone reply for Air India with his 23rd-minute goal.

The home side found the lead early, when Martins nodded an assist from Shylo Malswamtluanga in the 13th but were pegged back after their central defender Rasaq was shown a straight red card. But at the break, they were leading 2-1.

Referee Pratap Singh, who is one of the three referees to receive a professional contract recently, penalised Rasaq for dangerous play when the player had a collision with Air India striker Henry Ezeh.

Air India restored parity on the resultant free kick when midfielder Fernandes found the United SC net curling the ball past goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee. Martins produced the desired finishing in the 32nd minute when he netter a cross from right-back Dipak Mondal to make it 2-1 for United at the break.

United extended their advantage in the 57th minute when he played a series of one-two-one with Costa Rican former World Cupper Carlos Hernandes before finding the net with a left-footer to complete his hat-trick.

Meanwhile, Sporting Clube de Goa put up a gritty performance to hold Federation Cup champions East Bengal to a goal-less draw Nehru Stadium, Fatorda.

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