Three-time winners Mohun Bagan brightened their prospects of avoiding relegation as they rode on a brilliant Sunil Chhetri hat-trick to blank Tollygunge Agragami 4-0 in a one-sided ninth National Football League match in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Badly needing a victory to improve their position lower down the order, Bagan took an early lead through Jerry Jirsanga before substitute Chhetri netted thrice to seal the fate of city rivals Tollygunge Agragami, who are certain to be demoted.
After today's stupendous show, the beleaguered Bagan have now advanced to the eighth spot among the 12 teams with 22 points in their kitty from 21 outings. They need only a draw in their last match against another relegation-threatened outfit, Churchill Brothers, Goa, to stay in the premier league.
Churchill, now placed ninth, have the same number of points as Bagan, but the Kolkata side have the edge in goal difference. The Goans face a must-win situation in the away tie to ensure their survival.
As per rules, four sides are to slip into the second division, and other than Tollygunge, Vasco and SBT already stand relegated.
Bagan dominated the show throughout the Salt Lake Stadium tie, and could have returned home with a bigger margin, but for the wood work which stood in their way twice.
The Tollygunge defenders also brought about two goal line saves.
About 15,000 Bagan supporters, who had come to the ground looked relieved as their favourite club improved their position in the relegation battle.
Tollygunge have 17 points from 21 games.