Olunga scores first hat-trick in 2021 AFC Champions League as Al Duhail win seven-goal thriller

The Kenya international was the hero at the King Abdullah Sports City as the Red Knights climbed to the summit of their group

Michael Olunga continued his fine goalscoring streak in Qatar with a hat-trick in Al Duhail’s 4-3 victory over Esteghlal in an AFC Champions League encounter on Wednesday.

The Harambee Stars striker’s heroics made him the first player to score three goals in an AFC Champions League match this year.

Olunga inspired the hosts’ comeback in Jeddah with his equaliser six minutes after Amir Arsalan Motahari opened the scoring for Esteghlal in the fourth minute.

He fired Al Duhail ahead in the 27th minute, but Mali’s Cheick Diabate did not let the lead last for long as he drew Farhad Majidi’s side level, seven minutes later.

Both teams were set to go into the break on level terms but Abdullah Abdulsalam changed trajectory as he restored Al Duhail’s lead in the 43rd minute.

After the restart, Farshid Esmaeili made it 3-3 for the visitors but Olunga’s late match-winning goal secured all three points for the Red Knights.

The Kenya international scored his third goal of the night in the 85th minute, courtesy of an assist from Ismaeel Mohammad.

He played the entire duration alongside former Morocco and Juventus centre-back Medhi Benatia who was a key force in the defence.

The crucial victory extended Al Duhail’s unbeaten run in the competition and fired the Qatari giants to the top of Group C with seven points after three matches, while Esteghlal trail in the second spot with six points after the same number of matches.

Olunga has now scored four goals in three AFC Champions League matches, taking his tally to 14 goals since he joined Sabri Lamouchi’s side from Japanese club Kashiwa Reysol in January.

The 27-year-old ended the Qatar Stars League season with six goals in nine matches as the Red Knights finished second behind Xavi’s title-winning squad Al Sadd.

Next up for Olunga and Al Duhail is a trip to Iran for the return fixture of their Champions League against Esteghlal on Saturday.

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