Kolkata: Talismanic Nigerian Edeh Chidi struck a hat-trick and set up a couple more as East Bengal thrashed Yangon United of Myanmar 5-1 to enter the AFC Cup quarter-final for the second time after 2004. It was Chidi (25th, 71st and 76) who made his presence felt with a treble while Penn Orji (2nd) and captain Mehtab Hossain (48th) chipped in with a goal each much to the delight of the 10,000-odd spectators who had gathered at the floodlit Salt Lake Stadium.
Chidi and Co dazzled as Wednesday would certainly be remembered as one of the most memorable days in Indian club football as the team entered the last eight stage of Asian Tier-II continental event. The Trevor Morgan coached side might have had a disappointing finish in the I-League slipping to third spot, but the Scot ensured that the boys kept their impeccable record against international teams intact as Chidi set up Penn Orji for a second minute strike.
The Myanmar outfit's talismanic forward Adama Kone, who had a tally of nine goals, was brilliantly marked by the resolute East Bengal defence as Yangon United were reduced to a frustrated unit only to score a consolation goal through Cezar Augusto in the 78th minute. Chidi attacked from the right flank before passing on to an unmarked Penn inside the box as the latter slotted it home for an easy lead.
Chidi had another fine run in the 18th minute when he blasted from the edge of the box but his grounder missed the post by a whisker. The visitors tried to play long balls with Kone up front but the East Bengal defence were alert thwarting the Ivory Coast forward's every attempt.
A minute after Lalrindika Ralte's shot was blocked by the Yangon United defence, Chidi put his name on the board after Andrew Barisic and Penn set it up for the Nigerian displaying fine co-ordination.
East Bengal began the second-half with the same precision as the captain Hossain made it 3-0 with a superb shot that was brilliantly set up by none other than Chidi with a diagonal ground cross. Naoba Singh fed Chidi with a quality ball near the penalty spot as the Nigerian brought up his second goal giving East Bengal a commanding 4-0 lead midway into the second-half.
Continuing his fine run, Chidi brought up his hat trick in style as he finished from a solitary effort that gave East Bengal a five-star lead in the action-packed second-half.Just when Yangon United had all but given up, Augusto scored a consolation goal after getting a fine cross from the left flank.