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Alhassan Ibrahim's hattrick dim Shooting Stars in Uyo

By Fisayo Dairo

A 16-minute hattrick by Alhassan Ibrahim propelled Akwa United to a 4-2 victory over Shooting Stars at the Nest of Champions in Uyo on Sunday.

The former youth international's goals came after Ubong Friday had given the hosts an 11th minute lead. Shooting Stars scored through Moses James in the second half and then Taiwo Shittu late on but the damage had already been done in a blistering first 45 minutes.

Alhassan 'Muazam' Ibrahim returned to the Akwa set-up after missing Thursday's game at Lobi Stars due to injury. He, alongside petite winger Amaechi Orji were among five new faces in the starting line up which also included goalkeeper Ismaila Shagari.

The hosts settled into their free-flowing best early on and striker Musa Newman drew a smart save from Shooting Stars goalkeeper Adamu Abubakar when the former MFM striker headed an in-swinging corner by Orji on target on nine minutes.

United went in front two minutes later through another in-swinger by Orji who had started to dazzle the crowd with his quick feet and trickery. Ubong Friday meeting his free kick with an unstoppable header from 12 yards although Adamu got a hand to it.

The Promise Keepers smelt blood and went for the kill and could have added to their tally but for some poor final ball after good team moves. The visitors hardly threatened save for Promise Ebiaku's 25th minute free kick which went wide. Three minutes later, the Alhassan show started.

After a moment of insecurity by the Shooting Stars defence, the former Wikki Tourists star intercepted Sodiq Suraj's diagonal pass across the penalty box, rounded goalkeeper Adamu before calmly slotting into an empty net for his first and his team's second goal.

Ibrahim almost got his brace on 35 minutes but Adamu expertly turned his close range effort over the bar. There was nothing the impressive goalkeeper could do however to deny Ibrahim a superb goal a minute later. Defender Godspower Igudia found Ibrahim with a long thrust and after beating the offside trap, he skillfully decisioned Opeyemi Adetoyi before going past Shittu and then chipping the ball over Adamu.

United's other stars almost got into the act after Alhassan's brace but Adamu denied Musa Newman and Aremu Afeez before Alhassan claimed his hattrick on 44 minutes.

Amaechi Orji once again swung home a wicked cross from the right and it Alhassan was on hand to head home from six yards. The goal took the life out of 3SC goalkeeper Adamu who was given an ovation by the home fans as he left the pitch for Michael Uweru.

Second half
Shortly before Alhassan's 3rd, Shooting Stars coach, Fatai Amoo made a face saving substitution, replacing attacker Adewale Adigun with full back Waheed Omololu, allowing Opeyemi Adetoyi to move into an advanced position in the left flank.

It paid some sort of dividends in the second half. Three minutes into the half, Adetoyi's cross was punched clear by Akwa goalkeeper Shagari who collided with 3SC's Waheed Afolabi in the process. Shagari was replaced by Emmanuel Iwu as United's goalkeeping problems linger on.

Shooting Stars got one back on 58 minutes when a Suraj Sodiq long throw caused all sort of problems for the hosts' defence. Iwu initially saved Afolabi's flick but midfielder Moses James calmy latched on to the rebound and fired into the roof of the net.

Sodiq repeated the routing on 64 minutes when Adetoyi - one of the shortest men in the box - rose to flick home but Iwu tipped his effort over the bar.

The hosts had obviously removed their feet off the pedal but 3SC substitute goalkeeper still had to do enough to deny Musa Newman and Ubong Friday before Shooting Stars got a second in stoppage time through defender Taiwo Shittu who slammed home a freekick which was rolled to him by Adebayo Abayomi.

Abayomi would then miss another chance in the final moments when he rounded Iwu at the edge of the box but could not get enough curve on his effort to find the target.

MATCH DETAILS

AKWA UNITED: 18. Ismaila Shagari (Emmanuel Iwu 53') 28. Ofem Inah 31. Kodjovi Dadzie 6. Aremu Afeez (Chigozie Chilekwu 85') 15. Emmanuel Ariwa 35. Godspower Igudia 7. Friday Ubong 4. Alhassan Ibrahim 9. Musa Newman 24. Ifeanyi Ifeanyi 14. Amaechi Orji (Michael Ibe Okoro 85')

Unused Subs: 13. Meutieng Tchakounte 26. Cyril Olisema 10. Christian Pyagbara 32. Lawal Shittu

GOALS: Ubong Friday 11' Alhassan Ibrahim 28' 36' 44'

BOOKED: Ofem Inah 67'

SHOOTING STARS: 15. Adamu Abubakar (Michael Uweru 45') 27. Promise Ebiaku 38. Opeyemi Adetoyi 22. Moses James 39. Taiwo Shittu 19. Sodiq Suraj 9. Adewale Adigun (Waheed Omololu 42') 23. Otun Fawaz (Emmanuel Asiri 51') 28. Afolabi Waheed 8. Adebayo Abayomi 24. Ayobami Junior

Unused Subs: 29. Samuelson Owono 33. Babalola Ibrahim 11. Tolu Olaifa 12. Junior Merenini

GOALS: Moses James 58' Taiwo Shittu 90'

BOOKED: Ayobami Junior 56'

MATCH STATS
Akwa United 4-2 Shooting Stars
Shots (On target): 14(12)-10(5)
Corners: 7-4
Fouls: 11-12
Offside: 5-5
Bookings: 1-1

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