Ghana’s Elvis Manu found the net thrice as Ludogorets Razgrad bowed 4-3 to LASK in Thursday’s Europa League showdown.
Manu was a second-half substitute as the Bulgarian First League side lost 2-1 to Royal Antwerp in their first game. Against the Austrians, however, he was handed a starter’s role and that paid off as he turned in three goals.
In the seven-goal thriller at the Linzer Stadium, the hosts began the party by scoring in the second minute through Petar Filipovic. Marko Raguz found the unmarked defender who dribbled his marker before unleashing a shot past goalkeeper Plamen Iliev.
The hosts doubled their advantage in the 12th minute through Andreas Gruber who fired home a corner-kick from Peter Michorl.
In a goal-laden first-half that produced four goals, Manu pulled one back for the visitors three minutes later thanks to an assist from Alex Santana.
Marko Raguz restored LASK’s two-goal advantage in the 35th minute after acrobatically converting Andres Andrade’s cross as Dominik Thalhammer’s men went into the half-time break with a comfortable lead.
In the second half, the Austrians continued to push harder for more goals and that paid off in the 56th minute when Olivier Verdon deflected Husein Balic’s shot into his own net.
Ludogorets looked dead and buried, albeit, they almost produced a late comeback. Manu made it two for his side after darting into LASK’s defensive line before firing past goalkeeper Alexander Schlager.
16 minutes from full time, the Ghanaian completed his hat-trick from the penalty mark after he was upended by Lukas Grgic, who was dismissed by the referee Xavier Fernandez for a second caution.
That goal strengthened the Bulgarians but they tried in vain in search of an equaliser.
Alongside Manu, Madagascar’s Anicet Abel was in action from start to finish while Congo's Mavis Tchibota and Congo DR's Jordan Ikoko were introduced in the second half. For LASK, Nigeria’s Tobias Lawal was an unused substitute.
With this defeat, Stanislav Genchev’s side sits at the base of Group J with no point from two games. They would be eyeing their first win of their European campaign when they host Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur on November 5.
Manu has represented the Netherlands in the U16, U17, U19, U20 and U21 levels. However, on 24 June 2015, he switched his national allegiance to Ghana, whom he qualifies for through his Ghanaian heritage.