Prolific Nigerian striker Folarin Balogun started the 2019/20 season with a world class hat-trick for Arsenal U23s as they fought back from one goal down to defeat Blackburn Rovers 3-1 in a Premier League 2 clash at the County Ground (Lancashire FA HQ) (Leyland, Lancashire) on Monday night.
Four players of Nigerian descent featured for Arsenal in the game.
Promising players Tolaji Bola and James Olayinka started for the Gunners while Joseph Olowu and Tobi Omole were named on the bench.
Olowu came off the bench for Rob Holding in the 63rd minute, Olayinka was substituted. Omole watched the game from the bench.
Bola and Olayinka were full of running in the opening twenty-five minutes but could not find the target.
The homers scored first through Stefan Mols in the 27th minute.
Balogun started the comeback when his strike beat goalkeeper Joe Hilton as Arsenal got their equaliser.
The 17-year-old scored 26 goals in all competitions for Arsenal’s youth teams last term, including 25 goals for the U18s in the U18 Premier League.
The Rovers defence had given a good account of themselves throughout the evening, making a number of last-ditch tackles and vital interceptions – but in the end the Gunners’ pace and movement proved decisive, as Balogun and Trae Coyle won two penalties in the final 10 minutes.
Balogun stepped up for both and showed great composure to complete his first hat-trick at U23 level.
The forward was born in the United States to Nigerian parents and has played for England at youth level. He has been with Arsenal since the age of 10 and signed his first professional contract with the club in February 2019.
Steve Bould’s side are set to face Brighton & Hove Albion on Friday, August 16.