NorthEast United FC climbed to the top of the Hero Indian Super League table after a pulsating 4-3 win over defending champions Chennaiyin FC on Thursday.
The thrilling seven-goal spectacle in Chennai saw NorthEast United forward Bartholomew Ogbeche’s hat-trick, the second-fastest in ISL history, inspire his team to stage a brilliant come-back despite being 3-1 down at one point.
The former Paris Saint-Germain forward also catapulted to the top of the ISL top scorers list, with his exploits on Thursday taking his tally for the season to four.
“It was amazing. I think it was a game for the fans actually. I think we really entertained the fans tonight and most of all, we showed character. That’s how we ended up getting three points,” the 34-year-old expressed.
Chennaiyin FC had started the game brightly, going two goals up, before Ogbeche turned up the heat with a fantastic 10-minute hat-trick to help his side pull level. The Nigerian’s leadership quality also came to the fore apart from his goalscoring prowess that knocked the stuffing out of Chennaiyin FC.
“On the pitch, it is never over until it is really over for me. So, yeah, a few of the lads tried to bring their heads down so my intention was to raise them up and fight until the last moment and see what comes up because we are a really good team. Quite young but we have a good mixture of youth and experience,” he claimed.
In fact, Ogbeche’s belief and work-ethic seeped into his teammates who rallied behind their captain and completed the stunning turnaround in the second-half when Rowllin Borges found the back of the net with a sweeping finish.
“They reacted positively to my intention and what I was trying to do. We ended up getting three goals. Then in the second half, we got the winner.”
The Highlanders find themselves leading the pack, having registered two wins and a draw so far. Ogbeche is confident that the team can continue their impressive start to the season and stake a claim for a play-off spot.
“We feel really confident but we have to keep our heads down, keep our feet grounded and keep on going. There is no room for complacency.
“I’m doing well but there is still a lot of room for improvement. So we need to keep working hard and remain humble. Hopefully, we improve as the season goes on and finish as high as possible,” he added.
The NorthEast United skipper also had words of praise for the North East away fans.
“(They are) incredible fans, to be fair. These three points are dedicated to them. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to do this. We need to keep fighting for them.”