The Indian football team cantered to a 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei in the opening encounter of the Intercontinental Cup thanks to captain Sunil Chhetri's exquisite hat-trick.
Apart from the skipper, Udanta Singh scored his first ever goal in national colours and Pronay Halder capped his return from injury with a fantastic long-range curler to complete the scoreline.
The game saw the Indians dominate from start to finish as they put on an exhibition of quick, one-touch, passing football against opponents who were no match for them.
The Blue Tigers' captain opened the scoring in the 14th minute after putting a couple of efforts wide in the early stages, as he latched onto a smart slide rule pass from Jeje Lalpekhlua and separated himself from the defender, before finishing into the bottom corner.
In the 32nd minute, some wonderful one-touch play saw Anirudh Thapa lay the ball off to Jeje, whose smart pass found Chhetri on the right side of the box. He took a touch before sliding the ball in between the goalkeeper's legs to double the lead.
34' @chetrisunil11 you beauty. @AnirudhThapa has been the slient worker till now. A perfect 1-2 for the medio with @chetrisunil11 lands on to @jejefanai who registers another assist tonight to none but @chetrisunil11. IND 2-0 TPE #INDvTPE #WeAreIndia #BackTheBlue #AsianDream— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) June 1, 2018
Just after that, he was put through again but his attempted chip was saved very well by the Chinese Taipei goalkeeper.
The second half started with a bang as Udanta was put through on the right and he cut back inside, bamboozling his defender to finish smoothly with his left foot, to register his first goal for India.
On the hour mark, captain fantastic registered his hat-trick, latching on to a lovely through ball from Thapa, pausing to let his defender go out of position, before shooting into the roof of the net to score India's fourth.
That goal put Chhetri level with David Villa on the all-time list of active international goalscorers with 59 goals. The only players ahead of him now are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The fifth and final goal was scored by Halder, who launched a curling, dipping shot from outside the box that gave the goalkeeper no chance and rounded off the scoreline.
Sunil Chhetri scores a hat-trick and his 59th goal, equals Spain's David Villa as the third active international goal-scorer, now behind Messi and Ronaldo #INDvTPE— Uzair Hasan Rizvi (@RizviUzair) June 1, 2018
Full Time: IND 5-0 TPE,— Sir Ravindra Jadeja (@SirJadejaaaa) June 1, 2018
India Beat Chinese Taipei 5-0 In Intercontinental Cup. Captain Sunil Chhetri Nets Hat-trick. Well Deserved Man Of The Match. All The Best For Next Matches Against Kenya And New Zealand. Congrats. #INDvTPE pic.twitter.com/wtefhWHS3d
Out of all the goals I would pick @UdantaK's sublime finish as my favorite one. Doing all justice to @bhaichung's #15. And the captain @chetrisunil11 keeps scoring. Good start to the opener in the #herocontinentalcup #INDvTPE— SUKHVINDER SINGH (@sukkhi) June 1, 2018
#INDvTPE Good news India has won the match by 5-0 & Sunil Chhetri scoring 3 of the five goals. Well done boys....— Totlani Krishan (@kktotlani) June 1, 2018
He didn't start out as the best young talent. But he is ageing like fine wine. Wonderfully intelligent player, works hard and amazingly effective. https://t.co/TkPvfR5Vl7— Somnath Sengupta (@baggiholic) June 1, 2018
This @chetrisunil11 is incredible. He is an example for all Indian footballers. He has shown how to keep three 'F' of football-- focus, form and fitness. Hope he will repeat today's hat-trick in his century match.— rupayan bhattacharya (@rupayanb) June 1, 2018
This is the 1st time Sunil Chhetri has scored 2 goals in an international game since March 2015.— Aditya Warty (@AnalystAdi) June 1, 2018
Last occasion - vs Nepal in 2015. (FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifier). #IndianFootball #INDvTPE #IntercontinentalCup @fni
It's just Chinese Taipei but 5-0 is impressive no matter who it comes against. Jhingan and Anas were terrible, Anirudh Thapa was fire and Pronay with the icing.— Amrit (@SgtSaltnPeppa) June 1, 2018