Ranty Martins finished top scorer in the last two I-League seasons and his quest for a treble started on a perfect note as he scored a hattrick for 10-man United SC in their 5-1 victory over Air India in Kolkata.
United SC were reduced to ten early on when Bello Rassaq was shown a straight red for a high boot on Henry Ezeh. Ranty opened the scoring in the 12th minute, heading home a well measured cross from veteran Shylo Malswamtluanga.
Micky Fernandes scored past Sangram from 30 yards to bring Air India level. United SC took the lead again when Ranty headed Deepak Mondal's cross into the back of the net and then completed his hattrick in the second half.
East Bengal held
Last year's runners-up and Federation Cup champions East Bengal failed to make a winning start as they were held goalless by Sporting Clube in Margao. East Bengal goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal did well to deny Sporting twice in the first half.