History for Irankunda! Bayern-bound teen’s first career hat-trick smashes records in big win for Reds

Nestory Irankunda became the youngest hat-trick scorer in Isuzu UTE A-League history in Adelaide United’s 4-1 win over Western United at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.

Irankunda – aged 18 years and 49 days – opened the scoring in the first half, before sealing his hat-trick with two goals in the first three minutes of the second stanza to eclipse Nathan Burns (18 years, 259 days) as the youngest player to score three goals in an Isuzu UTE A-League game.

Michael Ruhs pegged one back for Western shortly after Irankunda’s third but Zach Clough iced the result with an 80th-minute penalty that wrapped up all three points for the Reds, before Western defender Tomoki Imai received a red card for an altercation with Ryan Kitto in second-half stoppage time.

Australian football historian Andrew Howe confirmed Irankunda as the second-youngest hat-trick scorer in Australian men’s national football league history behind John Panagis of West Adelaide in 1984 at 18 years and 32 days.

Angus Thurgate and Daniel Penha both had early chances to open the scoring for the visitors but after the latter fired just wide from distance, James Delianov – who signed a three-year contract extension in midweek – stood tall to keep Thurgate off the scoresheet with a strong block.

Irankunda then bagged his first goal of the night 19 minutes into the first half – and the 18-year-old did so in style.

A severely miscued attempt on goal by Zach Clough led to an inviting opening for Irankunda and the teenager delivered with aplomb, driving his first-time shot into the bottom-left corner.

The hosts took their one-goal lead to half-time – but just five minutes after the restart it was 3-1 as the action exploded shortly after the restart.

Irankunda scored within a minute of kick-off to double his tally for the night, latching onto a Stefan Mauk through ball, taking one tough off his thigh and squeezing the ball past the outrushing Matthew Sutton with the outside of his right foot.

Irankunda had never scored more than one goal in a single A-Leagues game but just two minutes after securing his brace, the young Reds forward had his hat-trick.

This time he used his head to finish; Mauk was once again the provider for the goal, drifting a cut-back cross to the six-yard box for the teenager to attack with intent and fire home his third goal of the night, and the 14th of his career to date.

The Reds faithful barely had the time to sit back down in their seats following Irankunda’s hat-trick goal when Western struck against the run of play.

Javi Lopez slipped inside his defensive penalty area to allow Ruhs to swoop in, gather possession and fire between the legs of Delianov to cut the margin back to two.

Goals in the 46th, 48th and 50th minute electrified Coopers Stadium in a breathless start to the second half.

Western’s quick response to Irankunda’s hat-trick could have launched a surprise comeback but after 20 goalless second-half minutes, the Reds were awarded a penalty when a VAR review spotted a handball from defender Tomoki Imai in the box.

Clough stepped up to take the penalty and showed conviction to beat Sutton who guessed the right way but couldn’t get a glove on the ball as it lashed into the back of the net.

Imai was sent off in the third minute of added time after an altercation with Kitto in midfield as Western’s sour night ended in defeat.