Marcelo Leite Pereira scored the third hat-trick of the season as Delhi Dynamos crushed FC Goa 5-1 to complete an unbeaten season at home and inch closer to a place in the semifinals.
After failing to make the last four in the first season and losing to Goa in the semifinals last year, Gianluca Zambrotta's men moved up to second in the table behind leaders Mumbai City FC, with two games to go.
Zico's Goa, bottom of the table with 11 points, only had a mathematical chance of making the knockouts ahead of the game, and looked set to keep that hope alive when they took the lead in the 32nd minute through home boy Fulganco Cardozo. However, Delhi responded strongly to equalise seven minutes later through Marcelo and the game was evenly poised at the break.
Within eight second half minutes, Delhi found the front gear to put four past Goa and leave the visitors with a mountian to climb. The visitors couldn't reduce the deficit as Delhi held on to complete a double over FC Goa this season.
Delhi now play NorthEast United and Mumbai City FC in their final two games and only need a point to assure them of a place in the last four.
Goa's opening goal came when striker Julio Cesar was played in with a long ball, and his shot from angle went between Delhi keeper Soram Poirei's legs, with Fulganco Cardozo tapping the loose ball into an empty net.
Delhi who have made the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, a fortress this season, did not take long to respond to Goa's opener.
Florent Malouda stood over a free-kick in the 38th, setting the ball, pulling up his socks, poised to shoot. Instead the Frenchman played a clever through ball to Marcelo who scored his sixth of the season from a tight angle.
Delhi are the only team yet to lose a home game this season, and have found the net every time in front of their fans, and they did so again right after the break with Marcelo getting his second in the 48th. The Brazilian received the ball 30 yards out, escaped a challenge and fired a rocket that ricocheted off the inside of Goa keeper Laxmikant Kattimani's right post.
Marcelo turned provider minutes later, playing in Richard Gadze whose low shot in the 51st was out of Kattimani's reach to make it 3-1.
The goal seemed to have taken out the little wind that was left in Goa's sails, and four minutes later Marcelo completed his hattrick. The forward controlled a long ball to face up to Goa's Debabrata Roy, and a dummy sent Roy the wrong way from which the Brazilian eased past Laxmikant to make four for Delhi.
A five-star performance was capped off by Gadze in the 58th minute, with the forward getting his second of the night from inside the box courtesy of some poor defending from Goa's back-line.
The result means Delhi need just a point from two games to secure their place in the playoffs, and with Zambrotta's men the highest-scoring side in the league with 26 goals, 10 ahead of second highest-scoring Mumbai, there are positive signs for road ahead.