Intercontinental Cup 2018: Sunil Chhetri climbs to 3rd on highest active international goalscorers' list, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
Sunil Chhetri has been on a record-breaking spree this season, and he continued that as he a hat-trick in India's first match at the Intercontinental Cup, in Mumbai, on Friday.
With these goals, Chhetri overtook USA international Clint Dempsey and drew level with David Villa, to climb to joint third on the list of the highest active international goalscorers in football.
Chhetri, who was on 56 goals ahead of the match, did not take too long to get his scoring boots on, as he opened the scoring on the 14th minute after he was played through on goal by strike partner Jeje Lalpekhlua, before he slid the ball past a hapless Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Wen-Chieh Pan.
While this goal brought Chhetri on par with Dempsey in the list of highest active international goalscorers, a second strike on the 33rd minute put the India skipper in the third spot on the list.
It was midfielder Anirudh Thapa, who initiated the move this time around, as he played a quick pass to his Chennaiyin teammate Jeje at the edge of the area. The Mizo striker immediately played an acute through ball to Chhetri, who took hit it on the half-volley, between the goalkeeper's legs to make the score 2-0. It was this goal that put Chhetri ahead of Dempsey (57) on this list.
The Blue Tigers made it 3-0 when Chhetri's Bengaluru FC teammate Udanta Singh showed a bit of footwork before he calmly slotted it into the bottom corner.
However, Chhetri was not done yet, as he came back in the second half to slot in a third to complete his hat-trick and make the score 4-0.
This means that Chhetri drew level with David Villa (59), and is only behind Real Madrid and FC Barcelona superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who are on 81 and 64 goals, respectively.
Interestingly, although the 36-year-old David Villa is not a regular member in the Spanish national team anymore, he has not yet officially announced retirement from international football.
Top 5 active goalscorers in International football
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Por) - 81
2. Lionel Messi (Arg) - 64
3. David Villa (Esp) - 59
3. Sunil Chhetri (Ind) - 59
5. Clint Dempsey (USA) - 57
Pranoy Halder later went on to make the score 4-0 later on, with a brilliant curling shot from outside the box. The Blue Tigers are set to play their next match against Kenya on Monday, followed by New Zealand on Thursday, before a possible cup final on June 10.