The striker scored three magnificent goals as the Highlanders overpowered the southerners.

Seiminlen Doungel became the first Indian player to score a hat-trick in this edition of the Hero Indian Super League as NorthEast United FC tore visitor Chennaiyin FC’s defence to shreds with a 3-1 victory at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati, on Friday.

Watch: NorthEast United 3-1 Chennaiyin FC

NorthEast United had lost 0-3 against Chennaiyin FC in Chennai earlier in their first-leg clash. There is a huge gap between the two teams on the ISL table with Chennaiyin targeting a top spot and NorthEast trying to rescue their campaign. It seemed a mismatch but Doungel turned the tables on their rivals with a hat-trick, the first ever for NorthEast United since inception in 2014.

Doungel scored the opening goal in the 42nd minute to give his team the lead at half-time. In the second session, Doungel struck twice in the 46th and 68th minute to complete a hat-trick. Anirudh Thapa pulled a goal back in the 79th minute but there was no way NorthEast would allow their lead to slip away at home.

The win gives NorthEast United 10 points after 10 matches and keeps their chances of qualifying alive. Chennaiyin FC will retain their second position on the points table with 20 points from 11 matches.

NorthEast United had scored just four goals in their nine matches prior to this clash against Chennaiyin FC and it looked like they would draw a blank again. There was urgency but no direction to the home team’s attack and most moves fizzled out before reaching the danger zone.

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Chennaiyin FC too were not in their elements, although there were a couple of half-chances.

The home team, though, were rewarded for their efforts in the 42nd minute as Doungel made the first attempt on goal count. A ball just outside the box from Reagan Singh saw Doungel chest it back to Cezario. The striker weaved his way past two markers and fired a shot which goalkeeper Karanjit Singh didn’t collect cleanly and Doungel slotted it home from close range.

19 seconds into the start of second session, NorthEast United and Doungel were celebrating again with their second goal. A through ball from Danilo Lopes saw Doungel get to the end of it and finish it past the onrushing goalkeeper.

Doungel then made it a special night by scoring his hat-trick in the 68th minute when he gave finishing touches to a square pass from Holicharan Narzary.

Chennaiyin FC, unbeaten for five matches, were stunned. Anirudh Thapa pulled a goal back in the 79th minute with a brilliant volley. But nobody was fooled into believing that they could get something out of this game with a late onslaught.