Kelechi Iheanacho, the young Nigerian international striker, bagged his first hat-trick in English football for Manchester City away to Aston Villa in the FA Cup fourth round yesterday.
Iheanacho, who City fans have been pressuring manager Manuel Pellegrini to give more game time, responded to having been handed a rare start by scoring a typical poacher’s goal from close range after the ball fell to him from a corner in the fourth minute.
His second goal came in the 23rd minute from the penalty spot following a foul against Raheem Sterling. An argument ensued between both youngsters on who should take the penalty, prompting Pablo Zabaleta to step in and insist Iheanacho took it. The Nigerian did not disappoint, calmly sending keeper Brad Guzan the wrong way with a side-footed finish.
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Iheanacho’s treble came when he intercepted a back pass and ran on to coolly slot the ball beyond Guzan after 74 minutes. He also played a part in City’s fourth when his misplaced overhead kick fell to Sterling to shoot home.
Pellegrini was full of praise after the match for the Nigerian: “I see him everyday in training, I know what he can do. Kelechi is the reason we did not feel the need to replace Edin Dzeko or Stevan Jovetic.”