Sunil Chhetri struck a brilliant hat-trick as India produced a dominating display to coast to a 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei in its opening match of the Intercontinental Cup, held at the Mumbai Football Arena.
India's intention to attack was evident from the very start of the game, with the side staging an attack as early as the third minute. An Udanta Singh pass found Chhetri in the box but his shot was inches away from the goal. The Indian skipper had a chance soon off a direct free-kick, but he failed to find the target.
Taipei custodian, Wen-Chieh Pan, survived a couple of early tests but was beaten in the 14th minute when Chhetri tapped in an inch-perfect pass from Jeje Lalpekhlua. The second goal, which came in the 34th minute, was a result of some slick passing between the attacking trio of Chhetri, Jeje and Anirudh Thapa. The Taipei defence conceded the ball on the left and was left chasing as the three strikers exchanged a round of quick passes before Chhetri slotted home his second goal of the night.
The humidity took its toll on the players, even though the game was played under floodlights, but the home side continued to dominate the lion's share of possession and went into the halftime interval with a 2-0 lead.
Stephen Constantine's men got off to a fine start in the second half when Udanta Singh found the back of the net in the 48th minute. The pacy midfielder weaved his way past two defends and struck a curling effort into the left corner to send the crowd into raptures.
Chhetri, who was playing his 99th game for the national team, completed his hat-trick in the 60th minute. An Udanta corner found Thapa, who played a pinpoint pass for Chhetri to bury into the back of the net and extend his side's lead to 4-0.
Pronoy Halder netted the fifth in the 78th minute to round off an impressive outing for the Indians and ensure the home side got off to a winning start.