Mahindra United relinquished their National Football League title with a flourish as they plundered a record nine goals to none against relegated team Mohammedan Sporting in their concluding match at the Cooperage today. The winners led 2-0 at half-time.
Had such a tally been recorded were the defending champions in title contention, suspicions may have been raised about the denouement.
The walloping score beat the previous 8-0 margin that Vasco had notched against HAL in Goa in April 2003 under coach Derrick Pereira, who incidentally broke his own NFL record with Mahindra now.
With their eighth win in 18 matches, Maindra United, who surrendered their title to Dempo, finished with 30 points and are in second spot now. However, JCT FC (28 points) can displace them if the Phagwara club wins against East Bengal in Kolkata on Saturday.
The black & white outfit finished their engagements with 12 points, and will be relegated along with cellar team HAL, who have 10 points but a game in hand.
Reserve forward Mohammed Rafi led the Mahindra goal-spree with three strikes (2nd, 46th and 47th minutes). Ghanaian Andrews Mensah slotted two, while Samson Fernandes (43rd minute), Rauf Khan, Steven Dias, who supplied some lovely crosses from the right flank that resulted in goals, and substitute Bhola Prasad completed the rout. The strikes by Khan, Dias and Prasad came through sizzling long range efforts.
"We have been playing well all along but sometimes the goals did not come. Today they did in a rush," coach Pereira enthused after the freak result.
The teams had played out a goalless draw in their first leg match in the 'City of Joy'.
Mahindra ripped open the makeshift Mohammedan defence with some deft touches and clever through balls, with captain Yusif Yakubu orchestrating the moves from midfield. But for some wayward shooting and timely interceptions by goalkeeper Nasibul Haque, the home side could have rattled up a tennis tally in the first half itself.
Playing without several of their regulars, Mohammedan Sporting hardly ever threatened the rival citadel. They simply collapsed after the Mumbai side rattled them with three goals in the opening five minutes of the second half and their defence went to pieces thereafter.