Forward Amaechi Orji came off the bench to score a sensational hat trick to help Akwa United thrash Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan 5-1 in the Aiteo cup Round of 16 match on Wednesday at the Godswill Akapbio International Stadium in Uyo.
Hassan Babangida put the Promise keepers ahead in the 5th minute after his wonderful solo effort destabilized the visitor's defense for him to find an opening to beat the goalkeeper at the near post.
Christian Pyagbara had the chance to extend his team's lead four minutes later but his effort went agonizingly wide after breezing through 3SC's back line.
The striker's miss
became the visitor's blessing as Abu Azeez, unmarked in Akwa United's box lashed onto a loose ball to equalise
for his team in the 14th minute.
Coach Abdu Maikaba's
team took control of the game after the visitor's equaliser
. Chigozie Chilekwu, Christopher Lolo
and Cyril Olisema stamped their authority and robbed 3SC of all possession in the midfield.
United suffered what looked like a set back going forward when Hassan Babangida copped an injury. The forward was swiftly replaced by Amaechi Orji just before the half hour mark.
Musa Newman received a great pass after a brilliant exchange of passes by his teammates but was dangerously hacked from behind.
Amaechi Orji then stepped forward to curled in a superb freekick
from range to score his first goal of the season and his team's second of the game in the 38th minute as the home team went in to
half time break with a 2-1 lead.
On resumption of play, Akwa United continued from where they left off before the break, a swift attacking move between Olisema, Pyagbara and Newman fell on the path of Amaechi who skipped past his marker and unleashed a low drive into the back of the net for his second of the game.
Akwa United increased in confidence as they continue to dominate. A devilish ball into the visitor's box caused panic after 3SC's goalkeeper mistimed his run and punched the ball onto the path of Amaechi who hit with excellent precision from 30 yards to compete
his hat trick and gave his team a 4-1 lead seven minutes into the second half.
3SC who were completely outplayed by their host,
made tactical substitutions including goalkeeper Tempe Charles who was replaced by Uweru Michael.
The substitute goalkeeper was also made to experience the unstoppable force of Akwa United when he was mesmerized by Cyril Olisema's
shot which rattled the crossbar.
Coach Maikaba introduced Michael Ibeh and Gideon Julius into the game replacing Musa Newman and Cyril Olisema. But it was Christian Pyagbara that scored in injury time after a great combination play with Michael Ibeh as the Promise keepers recorded an emphatic victory and advance to the quarter finals.
The 2015 Champions will know their quarter final opponent when the draws are conducted in Lagos.
The quarter final and semi final stage of the competition will be played on home and away basis. The winner of the Aiteo cup will join Enyimba to represent Nigeria in the CAF Confederation Cup next season.