Sadiq Umar found the net on three occasions as Almeria defeated SD Ponferradina 3-1 in Sunday’s Segunda outing.
The former Nigeria U23 star beat goalkeeper Jose Antonio Caro thrice in the first-half as Jose Gomes’ team began 2021 on a flying note.
Having bowed 2-1 to Espanyol their last time out, the hosts went into the clash in search of all maximum points which would do their Spanish topflight promotion bid a lot of good. And within two minutes after kick-off, Umar gave them a well-deserved lead following an assist from Ager Aketxe.
In the 21st minute, the former AS Roma forward doubled his side’s advantage by volleying home after Nikola Maras had finished off a corner-kick played by Jose Lazo.
Eight minute later, he completed his treble will a cool finish inside the six-yard box as Almeria took a three-goal lead into the half-time break. Before then, Umar had missed the chance to make it four as his shot kissed the woodwork after controlling the ball with his chest.
Looking dead and buried, Ponferradina came into the second-half to keep the scoreline respectable. Nevertheless, it was the hosts who were reduced to ten men after referee Eduardo Iglesias gave Sergio Akieme the marching orders for a dangerous play.
The numerical disadvantage gave visiting La Pofe the confidence to push forward and fortunately, they pulled one back through substitute Curro Sanchez with eight minutes left to play.
Umar who now boasts of nine goals from 14 outings in the 2020-21 season was replaced by Juan Villar. For Bolo's side, Mali's Moussa Sidibe and Niger Republic's Yac Magagi were unused substitutes.
Thanks to this result, Almeria climbed to third in the log having accrued 41 points from 20 games - a point behind leaders Espanyol, while Ponferradina remained in seventh position with 30 points from the same number of fixtures.
Umar who has been an instant hit for the Segunda side since joining them on a five-year contract from Serbian club Partizan on October 5, 2020 would be aiming to continue with his blistering form when Almeria take on Numancia in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey fixture.
Four days later, they take on Kenneth Omeruo’s Leganes in a league showdown billed for Estadio Municipal de Butarque.