Aiyappa powers Air India

Aiyappa powers Air India

Aiyappa’s hat-trick was the highlight of Air India’s dominant show with ASC once again fading away after some initial resistance. Air India took time to get used to the turf in the first half and for the first 20 minutes, ASC held off their challenge with aplomb.

But the Armymen couldn’t safeguard their fort for too long as Air India, with a clutch of internationals in their ranks, earned a penalty corner in the 21st minute. Birendra Lakra’s push was neatly stopped by Arjun Halappa before Aiyappa’s low drag-flick sounded the board.

ASC then tightened their defence and went for the break without further damage as Air India failed to convert their dominance into more goals.

Air India increased the pace of the game in the second half. Soon their tactics worked as Shivender Singh, after being fed by skipper Sameer Dad, played a one-two with Birendra Lakra before neatly placing the ball to the left of ASC goalkeeper R Lakra.

Five minutes later, a goalkeeping error allowed Air India to make it 3-0. Dad, after collecting Shivender’s pass inside the striking circle, pushed the ball towards the goal but Lakra missed an easy clearance and the ball went between his legs to cross the goalline.

Aiyappa then took the centre stage, drag-flicking three goals in the span of eight minutes. The 31-year-old first placed the ball to the left of Lakra in the 56th before twice beating the custodian to the right in the 61st and 63rd minutes.

Result: Air India: 6 (Len Aiyappa 21st, 56th, 61st, 63rd, Shivender Si-ngh 43rd, Sameer Dad 48th) bt ASC: 0.