A first hat-trick in professional soccer by in-form Gabon international striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inspired Saint-Etienne to a 4-2 victory over Ligue 1 rivals Lorient on Wednesday.
The treble from the 22-year-old — joint leading scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations — and an own-goal by Bruno Ecuele-Manga saw them to their third successive victory and bang in contention for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Aubameyang — a former France Under-21 international, but who failed to make the grade at either AC Milan, Dijon or Lille — was overwhelmed by his personal landmark, which also saw him go joint third in the scorer charts with 10.
“It is my first hat-trick in professional football,” the marksman with the Mohican-style haircut said. “I will not forget the ball [he had it under his arm]. It is even more magnificent because it comes with a win. This is a dream moment.”
“A goal with my right, a goal with my left and one with my head, is good, special even,” he said.
“My family have criticized me because I don’t score enough with my head,” added Aubameyang, whose father captained the 1994 Gabon team at the Africa Cup of Nations, as well as appeared at the 1996 edition.
The three points took them into fourth spot, three points behind champions Lille, who scraped a fortunate 1-0 win away at luckless bottom-side Sochaux.
Lille are six points adrift of leaders Paris Saint-Germain.