Red hot and in-form Nigerian striker Gift Orban scored his second career hat-trick for KAA Gent, leading them to a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Cercle Brugge in their UEFA Europa Conference League playoffs game on Saturday at the Jan Breydel Stadium.
Orban had been in the news for not so good reasons recently after calling out his manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck for refusing to start him due to loss of form. However, since his utterance, he’s been handed more playing time and has repaid his manager with a truck load of goals scoring five times in his last three games of the playoffs.
The game had been cagey in the first few moments but Brugge suffered a huge loss in the 22nd minute after centre-back Christiaan Ravych was send off for a second yellow card offence – he had hacked down Orban for a second caution and given his marching order by centre referee Jonathan Lardot. He had earlier been cautioned in the 17th minute for a foul.
Gent took advantage of their opponent being one-man down with Hugo Cuypers scoring the opener in the 41st minute. The second half was an all-Orban show as he once again showed why he is one of the biggest young talents in the Jupiler League.
Orban was on target in the 51st minute. He made the score 3-0 when he found the back of the net again for his brace in the 64th minute then completed his hat-trick with a beautiful lob on the goalkeeper.
The hat-trick takes Orban’s goals tally for Gent to 19 in 19 appearances across all competitions. He scored nine goals in 10 Jupiler League games, five goals in six Conference League outings and has scored five goals in three playoffs games.
The 20-year-old joined the four-time Belgian champions during the January transfer window from Norwegian league side Stabæk for €3.3m. He is already attracting interest from clubs in Germany, Spain and France but Gent would be hoping to retain his services.
Orban will be hoping to continue his impressive goals scoring feat for the club when they face Brugge in a return leg on May 20.