Defending champions Atletico de Kolkata cruised into the play-offs with a thumping 4-1 win over FC Pune in a Hero ISL match at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Friday. Canadian striker Iain Hume scored a hat-trick before substitute Dejan Lekic of Serbia completed the rout. Romanian forward Adrian Mutu scored a consolation goal for Pune.
The Canadian striker was simply outstanding against Pune. With the Atletico midfield of Spaniards Borja Fernandez and Jaime Gavilan combining well with South African Sameehg Doutie, Hume found enough space to operate as the lone man upfront. The efficiency in the midfield, which characterised Kolkata’s wins against Chennaiyin FC (2-1) and FC Goa (4-0), helped the hosts dominate the contest.
The visitors lost the plot quite early as Atletico reproduced the fine passing game they had perfected over the last few rounds. Pune did well on the breaks, coming up with some strong counter-attacks, but found the goalpost acting as the 12th man for Atletico and blocking three attempts!
Izumi Arata could have got the break early on in the second minute when he had only the Pune custodian Arindam Bhattacharya at his mercy after he reached a fine cross from Fernandez. However, Arata, the only change coach Antonio Habas made, could not control the ball. In the ninth minute, Arata made amends for his mistake when he set up Hume for the opener after perfectly getting in line of another long provision from Fernandez.
Pune could have equalised in the 23rd minute when Mutu beat custodian Amrinder Singh with a powerful shot but found the ATK upright come in the way.
The change of ends saw the hosts double their efforts to enhance the lead. The insurance goal came within two minutes (47th) as Hume scored with a spectacular side-volley off a Fernandez pass.
He went on to complete his hat-trick, his second in this edition after the one against Mumbai City FC, in the 83rd minute, latching on to an assist from Doutie, who essayed a fine cross from the right as the former flew in from the centre to tap home.
Mutu finally found the net in the 86th minute to make it 3-1, but it was too little too late.
Lekic, who substituted Doutie in the 84th minute, made it 4-1 in injury-time.
Atletico, with 23 points from 13 matches, remain on top of the standings while Pune have 15 from 12 games.