Thimphu, Nov 23 (IANS) Pune FC thrashed Assam State Electricity Board FC 5-0 in a third round Group-B encounter to seal their place in the semi-finals of the 2014 King’s Cup at the Changlimithang Stadium here Sunday.
The big win was powered by striker Thongkhosiem Haokip (20th, 29th, 67th minute), who scored a memorable hattrick, as well as midfielder Arata Izumi (14th) and substitute Velington Rocha (85th) who contributed in Pune FC’s third consecutive win.
Thus, Pune FC became the first team to seal a place in the last-four of the competition, and did so with a game in hand having collected nine points from their first three games. They now lead the chasing pack of Abahani Ltd, Dhaka (4), Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC), Nepal (4) and Ugyen Academy Bhutan (3), all fighting for the second place in Group-B after ASEB (0) got knocked out.
Pune FC began the game on the offensive and had the attacking trio of Haokip, Eric Brown and Ryuji Sueoka go close on a few occasions, before finally taking the lead in 14th minute.
A good combination play between Haokip and Sueoka allowed Arata to slot the ball past goalkeeper Daoga Brahma in the ASEB goal.
Minutes later, Pune FC doubled their advantage as Arata turned provider helping Haokip to score.
Nine minutes later, Pune FC got their third goal, once again through Haokip. After Sueoka did well to steal a ball and take a crack on goal, the deflection off defender Sunil Murmo took the ball to Haokip who lunged forward to complete his brace.
At the other end, ASEB were restricted to a handful of chances by an alert Pune FC defence.
The first half ended with Pune FC leading 3-0.
The second half was a similar story as Pune FC kept on attacking the rival goal but fell short of increasing their lead.
But they finally got their fourth goal midway through the half when an unmarked Haokip, just on the edge of the box, calmly scored to complete his first-ever hattrick for Pune FC.
ASEB was awarded a penalty in the 78th minute after Pune defender Salam Ranjan Singh fouled striker Dwimhlu Brahma inside the box but their skipper Sanjay Boro fired his low effort from the spot-kick wide.
Pune then increased their lead through Rocha in the 85th minute, who controlled the ball and placed it smartly to complete the rout.