Former Super Eagles striker Utaka bags hat-trick in Japan

Peter Utaka found the net on three occasions as Kyoto Sanga demolished Giravanz Kitakyushu in a J2 League encounter played on Saturday.

The former Nigeria international had scored the only goal in his side’s 1-0 defeat of Machida Zelvia the last time out.

Against the Giravanz, he got a treble as Cho Kwi-jae’s men ran riot at the Sanga Stadium by Kyocera in the seven-goal thriller.

17 minutes into the encounter, Utaka got his first of the day. Left unmarked inside the visitors’ box, the Nigerian rifled a Shohei Takeda assist past goalkeeper Ko Shimura.

Six minutes later, he doubled his team’s advantage guiding a cross from Kosuke Taketomi past a stranded Muramatsu with his left foot.

In the goal-laden first-half, Takahiro Iida made it three goals for Sanga in the 26th minute having been teed up by Takumi Miyayoshi.

Knowing they were in for a torrid night, Kitakyushu stepped up their game and deservedly reduced the deficit through Takamitsu Tomiyama two minutes before the half-time break.

On-loan from Omiya Ardija, he profited from a pass from Yasufumi Nishimura to slot past goalkeeper Keisuke Shimizu.

In the second half, the home team continued from where they left things, to extend their lead in the 52nd minute with the 37-year-old Nigerian completing his treble.

Receiving the ball from Shimpei Fukuoka, Utaka sandwiched the ball past Kazuya Okamura and captain Kota Muramatsu – which sailed past Shimura.

Goals from Jordy Buijs in the 72nd and 75th minutes respectively, completed the whitewash of the team tutored by Shinji Kobayashi.

After an impressive shift, the former Westerlo and Royal Antwerp star was substituted in the 77th minute for Tadanari Lee to rapturous applause from the few fans in the Stadium.

Thanks to this result, Kyoto Sanga FC climbed to third in the Japanese second-tier log having amassed 16 points from eight outings in the ongoing season. Defeat for Giravanz Kitakyushu keep them in the relegation waters with just seven points.

Utaka, who leads the goalscorer’s chart with seven goals would be hoping to increase his tally when his team visits Tokyo Verdy on April 21.

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Ogbonna Ugorji

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