Kano Pillars beat 10-man Akwa United 3-2 in a thrilling game, to displace Enugu Rangers at the top of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NFPL).
The Cup holders, Akwa United, stunned the former champions through Michael Ibe Okoro’s goal on 10 minutes, but that lead lasted just four minutes as Ali drew his side level.
On 26 minutes, Ali latched on to Prince Aggreh’s cross to score after Akwa United failed to clear the winger’s well-whipped pass.
Just when the Sani Abacha Stadium came to life, former Kano Pillars man Ubong Ekpai drilled the dagger into the hearts of the home faithful by scoring from Ezenwa Otorogu’s pass right on the break.
At the start of the second half, Ali got his hat-trick. The drama did not end there as Ekpai got sent off for a second bookable offence after handling the ball. Akwa United finished the last 23 minutes with 10 men.
Pillars are now in second place behind Rangers, on the same number of points – 10. Rangers have a better goal difference.
A minute before the break, Ubong Ekpai brought Akwa United level. But Ali completed his hat-trick in the second half, to give Pillars all three points.