Ranti Martins scored a hat-trick to help his new club Prayag United SC open its account with a 5-1 drubbing of Air India in the I-League match here on Sunday.
Prayag lost its Nigerian defender Bello Rasaq to a red card in the 20th minute but still had a full-strength Air India on the mat with regular strikes.
Martins scored the first hat-trick of the tournament before K. Asif and C.K. Vineeth found the target once each to complete United SC’s scoreline.
Mickey Fernandes scored the only goal for Air India off a first-half free-kick.
Prayag made a positive start and mounted regular incursions through the wings. Martins successfully reached at the end of a measured centre from Shylo Malswamtluanga and gave his team the lead in the 13th minute off a fine header.
The home side got a jolt in the 20th minute when Rasaq was sent off after referee Pratap Singh found him guilty of a dangerous foul on Air India striker Henry Ezeh.
Air India found the equaliser off the resultant free-kick as midfielder Fernandes found the goal.
After Malswamtluanga saw his 29th minute effort coming off the crosspiece, Martins restored Prayag’s lead in the 32nd minute finishing a cross from captain and right-back Dipak Mondal.
The host returned with more intensity following the break as Martins completed his hat-trick in the 58th minute after playing a nice one-two-one with Costa Rican World Cupper Carlos Hernandes.
Asif and Vineeth then made the most of the psychological advantage and got a goal each in the 65th and 80th minutes.
The result: Prayag United SC 5 (Ranti Martins 3, K. Asif, C.K. Vineeth) bt Air India 1 (Mickey Fernandes).