Eric Odhiambo scored an impressive hat-trick as Sligo Rovers took full control of their Setanta Sports Cup tie with Crusaders. Aaron Greene bagged Sligo's second, while Declan Caddell scored a consolation goal for the hosts.
Crusaders were slow to get into the game, allowing the visitors to get a couple of early attempts at goal, with Raffaele Cretaro and Eric Odhiambo looking lively for Sligo. Odhiambo marked his debut with a fine strike after Paul O'Conor's blocked effort found him lurking in the area.
O'Conor was also involved in Sligo's second, putting the ball back into the danger zone after a poor clearance from goalkeeper Yohann Lacroix, allowing Aaron Greene a simple finish. Ian Baraclough's side extended their lead before half-time, with Odhiambo adding his second after good interplay with David Cawley creating space behind the Crusaders backline.
Aaron Greene looked to have scored a second goal of his own after the restart, but instead saw his shot ripple the side netting. Odhiambo completed his hat-trick on 62 minutes, netting after Crues failed to clear Greene's corner. The new signing also laid off a good pass for Sean Maguire, but the on-loan debutant couldn't find the net after coming off the bench.
Crusaders pulled one back through Declan Caddell, whose deflected shot left Gary Rogers with no chance. Maguire was busy up front for Sligo as Crues looked deflated, and were happy not to concede any more goals. Sligo now hold a big advantage ahead of the second leg at the Showgrounds on March 10.