Ubong Friday inspired Akwa United to a resounding 4-1 victory over Niger Tornadoes, becoming the first player in his team to score a hat-trick in the 2023-24 Nigeria Premier Football League season.

Following a run of two loses in their last two games against Doma United and Remo Stars, the Promise Keepers needed to return to winning ways and Ubong Friday and his teammates turned up nicely at the Nest of Champions, backed up by their vocal fans as they claimed their 9th win of the season.

Friday, a vastly experienced winger put up a spectacular performance and opened the scoring for his side in the 37th minute, when he headed in a rebound after Niger Tornadoes’ goalkeeper Joshua Enaholo had spilled Seyi Oguntayo’s rocket shot.

Four minutes later, the 2021 champions doubled their lead in style when winger Osoba Kabir scored his first goal for Akwa United. The winger received a lovely pass from midfielder Seyi Oguntayo and calmly sent his curling effort into the top left-hand corner of the post.

After the restart, Coach Muhammed Babaganaru’s team continued where they left off at half-time and pushed for more goals and in the 67th minute, Ubong Friday anticipated well and out-jumped his marker to direct Sani Suleiman’s inche-perfect cross at the near post into the net to make it 3-0 for his side.

Ubong completed his hat-trick in the 79th minute when he calmly scored from the spot after substitute Salomon Chigoziem was brought down in the box by goalkeeper Joshua Enaholo. Since rejoining the team in mid-season, Ubong Friday has now scored six goals in ten matches for Akwa United.

The visitors reduced the deficit two minutes from time through Clinton Jephta whose low drive inside the box beat goalkeeper Jean Efala.

Akwa United ended the match with ten men following the sending off of defensive midfielder Ubong Essien after receiving his second yellow card in the match.

The result means that Akwa United stay 18th on the log with 34 points from 30 matches with eight games until the end of the season.

Akwa United will next travel to Ilorin to engage Kwara United on matchday 31 this weekend.

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