John Stiven Mendoza’s second hat-trick of the season helped Chennaiyin retain their ambition for a spot in the semi-finals after they defeated Kerala Blasters 4-1.

Abhishek Bachchan co-owned Chennaiyin FC put a stop to their four match winless streak, as they defeated Kerala Blasters 4-1 at the Marina Arena in the Hero Indian Super League on Saturday and saw themselves move up to the sixth place in the standings.

Chennaiyin made five changed from their lineup against Atletico de Kolkata, with Materazzi surprising everyone by dropping their marquee player Elano, while Stiven Mendoza returned to the lineup alongside Edel Apoula, Bruno Pelissari, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Bernanrd Mendy. Kerala Blasters FC coach Terry Phelan decided not to tinker with his team that routed NorthEast United 4-1.

Chennaiyin made a bright start to the game and rushed to a 2-0 lead within the opening quarter of the game, as Stiven Mendoza, who grabbed a hat-trick, looked like a man on a mission after having been dropped to the bench in their previous encounter. Chennaiyin, though, broke the deadlock from an unlikely source, as left back Dhanachandra Singh reached a poor headed clearance from Rahul Bheke and smashed a beautiful first time volley past Stephen Bywater. Dhanachandra then turned to be the provider as he found Mendoza at the edge of the box, who curled the ball into the net with his left foot.

After rushing to a two-goal lead, Chennaiyin slowed down the tempo of the game but always had an eye on their goal difference and again let loose around the eighty minute mark when Mendoza scored two goals in two minutes to effectively seal the match in favour of Chennaiyin. Mendozaa s persistence was rewarded on the 80th minute when he made a sweet strike with the outside of his left foot to put a finish to the ball from Thoi Singh. A minute later Harmanjot Khabraa s through ball set Mendoza free for a one-on-one with Bywater, but he held his composure to calmly slot it past the onrushing goalkeeper.

Kerala Blaster did score a consolation goal late in the added time through Antonio German, but they had their chances to score a goal when they were just two goals down and may well have staged a comeback from there. Sandesh Jhingan was the culprit on the 69th minute after he reached to the end of a Mehtab Hossain free kick but headed it over the bar.

But as if the goals werena t enough, there was drama on the half hour mark in front of the Chennaiyin FC dugout, after Materazzi tried to slow down the tempo of the game by holding onto the ball when it reached near him. Kerala Blasters defender Saumik Dey shoved the Italian leading to some exchange of words. The referee, though, was quick to step in between them but opted not to caution either of them.

Image Courtesy: ISL Media