Iker Guarrotxena scored the season's fastest hat-trick as FC Goa beat East Bengal 4-2 to climb to third spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Thursday.
Guarrotxena's three goals in 12 minutes took him to the top of the goalscoring charts. The result also struck a blow to East Bengal playoff hopes as Stephen Constantine's men now find themselves 10 points off sixth place with five games to go.
The Gaurs made no changes to their lineup as coach Carlos Pena tweaked the formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-1-2-3. The visiting side made three changes as Ivan Gonzalez, Jerry Lalrinzuala and Sumeet Passi featured the starting XI.
The change in formation did the trick for FC Goa as they had a commanding 3-0 lead within the opening 23 minutes. The carnage began in the 11th minute when Devendra Murgaonkar slid a through ball into the box from the right towards Noah Sadaoui. Under pressure from Passi, the winger poked it into the path of Guarrotxena, who tucked it in.
Ten minutes later, Guarrotxena doubled his tally with a spectacular diving header. This time, the attack started from the left flank as Sadaoui whipped a pin-point delivery into the box and Guarrotxena's glancing header bounced off the far post and landed inside the goal.
The Spaniard completed his hat-trick two minutes later. Brandon Fernandes' corner was headed away from goal by Fares Arnout before Sanson Pereira headed it back into the box. The East Bengal defence was caught on the wrong foot as Guarrotxena found the back of the net from close range.
.@iguarrotxena at the right place at the right time for the Gaurs with a perfect header! 🟠⚽
Follow all the action on @StarSportsIndia, @DisneyPlusHS and @OfficialJioTV#FCGEBFC #HeroISL #LetsFootball #FCGoa #IkerGuarrotxena pic.twitter.com/i5DV8l5AAP
- Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) January 26, 2023
Seven minutes into the second half, Lalchungnunga brought Brandon down near the edge of the box. Edu Bedia and Brandon stood over the free-kick before the latter curled it in at the far post to hand the host a 4-0 lead. The visitors mounted a brief challenge, when an unmarked Suhair VP nodded in Mahesh Singh's cross from close range in the 59th minute and Sarthak Golui brought the deficit down to two in the 66th minute with a header.
But they failed to capitalize on their chances and the scoreline remained unchanged till the full-time whistle.
FC Goa have moved into third place, although Kerala Blasters, ATK Mohun Bagan and Odisha FC have two games in hand below them. Edu Bedia picked up his fourth yellow card of the season and will miss the Gaur's next encounter against Odisha FC on February 6, while East Bengal will take on Kerala Blasters on February 3.