JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Apr 22 – Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga continued in his rich vein of scoring form, scoring a hattrick as his Qatari Club Al Duhail sealed a thrilling 4-3 victory over Iranian outfit Esteghlal FC in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday night.
Olunga hit the winner in the 85th minute, having earlier scored in the 10th and 27th minutes as Duhail remained top of Group C with seven points after four matches.
“Al Duhail is moving in the right way, and the proof of that is that today we did not give up after we scored the first goal and we managed to get out ahead in the first half of the match, and after the equalizer scored by the Iranian team in the second half we continued to work until we achieved victory,” Olunga said after the match.
The lanky Kenyan international took his scoring tally to four goals in three matches in the Champions League, having scored the equalizer in the 1-1 draw against Al Ahli Saudi. He also forced an own goal in the 2-0 opening day victory over Al Shorta last Thursday.
Al Duhail, who were dethroned as champions by Xavi’s Al Sadd in the Qatar Stars League in March, have not been a real force at the continental level, having never progressed beyond the quarter-finals.
But Wednesday’s performance must have lifted their hopes with Olunga scoring his second hat-trick this year, having starred in Al Duhail’s 6-0 win against Al Ahli in Qatar’s Amir Cup.
The Iranians broke the deadlock after just four with Amir Motahari powering in a header off a Seyed Mousavi cross in the fourth minute.
But, Duhail were quickly back in business when Olunga powered home the equalizer six minutes later with a close range header after Esteghlal goalkeeper Mohamed Mazaheri had parried a powerful shot from Edmilson onto his path.
The Kenyan would then double his tally with a powerful low shot in the 27th minute, taking advantage of a wayward pass from Masoud Rigi inside the box and firing home.
But the Qatari former champions could not hold on for the lead as the Iranians drew back level seven minutes later through Chieck Diabate who scored with an easy tap-in after picking up a cross.
But, two minutes to the break, Olunga’s side went back ahead with Abdullah al-Ahrak finding the net off a cross from Mohamed Musa.
The never say die Iranians fought to get back into the match and they did so after 74 minutes when captain Farshid Esmaeili diving to head in off a corner.
With the match seemingly headed for a draw, Olunga would pop up to save the day for Duhail when he completed his hattrick with a brilliant shot on the turn after controlling a cross from Ismael Mohamed inside the box.