East Bengal struck thrice after a barren first-half to rout debutants Chennai City FC 3-0 and extend their winning streak to six matches consolidating their position atop the table in I-League football on Sunday.
Wedson Anselme (50th), Willis Deon Plaza (75th) and Lalrindika Ralte (90+6th) scored for East Bengal in front of a packed crowd at the Vidyasagar Krirangan to hand Chennai their fifth loss on the trot.
The win ahead of a week of high-profile derby against Mohun Bagan matched their six-match winning streak of 2010-11 season as they consolidated their place atop the table with 19 points from seven matches, three points clear of their arch-rivals who have a match in hand.
Anselme opened up the lead from Ralte’s lob from 23 yards as the Haitian midfielder used his left foot for a first touch to find the far post, taking a slight deflection off Yumnam Raju.
There was no looking back for the red and gold brigade as Trinidad and Tobago forward Willis Deon Plaza surged in for one-two with Wedson before the former shot inside the goal to double the lead.
There was more in store after the referee added six minutes to the regulation time as Thongkhosiem Haokip was brought down by Echezona Anyichie for a dying minute spot-kick and Ralte made no mistake to complete the rout.
Earlier, Chennai City FC made four changes from their 2-0 loss in Shillong, bringing in Debabrata Roy, Dhanapal Ganesh, Denson Devadas and Darren Caldeira. East Bengal were forced to replace the suspended Mehtab Hossain giving Rowllin Borges a start.
Rowllin set up Wedson as he ran down the middle with Nikhil Poojary making a fine run with East Bengal creating a fine opportunity in the seventh minute.
The Under-22 signing had the top right corner of the post all for him but his first-time shot went too wide and over the bar.
Looking for their elusive I-League title, East Bengal’s next stop would be the showpiece match of the tournament when they take on arch-rivals Mohun Bagan in the I-League derby in Siliguri on January 12.