Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, a total of 28 players have scored a total of four or more goals in a single match. As expected, the players who have achieved this feat include great footballers as well as top players who are still active. Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Luis Suarez and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are just a few players to have achieved this feat. But the first player to do so was Nigerian striker Ifan Ekoku, who at the time played for Norwich City. Ekoku achieved the feat by beating Everton 5–1 at Goodison Park.
As 28 years have passed since that day, let us look back at a historic Premier League moment.
It is worth noting that the Norwich team in the early 90s was a much better team than it is now. Currently, they have won their second promotion in three years and are again in the relegation battle.
But at the end of the 1992–93 season, Norwich were in the title race with Manchester United. They would miss out on the title and finish third, but it was still a promising season for the Canaries.
A third-place finish in UEFA Cup (now Europa League) football and in Efan Ekoku, they had a striker capable of scoring crucial goals on his day.
He proved as much when he scored Norwich’s first goal in European competition against Vitesse Arnhem and would also help them eliminate the mighty Bayern Munich in the next round.
However, Ekoku got his history-making moment in a match against Everton at Goodison Park 10 days after Vitesse’s victory.
Everton were a side in some decline at the time. They were league winners as recently as 1987 but finished 13th in the first Premier League season. They finished 17th in the 1993–94 season as well.
Therefore, it is fair to say that Norwich were the favorites going into this tie, despite being the away team. However, Toffee had some positive aspects as well. They won the Merseyside derby against Liverpool last weekend and are quietly optimistic about a result against Norwich.
Efan Ekoku shines
That quiet optimism would turn into hazy hope in the early stages of the match. A long ball looped over and caught the Norwich defense napping, and Paul Rideout slotted him in to give the home side the lead.
The Everton fans were in ecstasy, and the side looked likely to enter the half-time break with the lead. However, Ifan Ekoku scored the equalizer in the 44th minute.
He was played through the defence, but seemed to pass the ball too wide for a shot. From his point of view a cross looked a better option, but with no options in the box, he fired a slashing shot across the goal.
The ball went into the back of the net, beating the goalkeeper. Norwich had equalized at a time which, according to conventional wisdom, could have had a disastrous effect on the accepting team.
And while it may sound like a cliché, it certainly appeared to take the wind out of Everton’s sails. As such, for the early parts of the second half, it was Norwich who looked the better to score.
This turned out to be true when another length ball found Chris Sutton in space. He could have shot, but with Ekoku in the box and a bunch of defenders, he chose instead to put the ball over Ekoku’s head.
The striker made no mistake, heading towards goal to give Norwich a deserved lead. It was the goal, however, that really opened the floodgates.
Sutton once again turned provider, playing a long ball through Ruel Fox. He was face-to-face but saw that his shot was saved. Ekoku was ready for the rebound though, and completed his hat-trick with a tap-in. What’s more, it was a perfect hat-trick: he scored first with his right hand, then with a header and finally with his left foot.
However, Ekoku was not done. He beat a defender and went one-on-one with the goalkeeper before scoring and adding the fourth. Thus he became the first player in the history of the Premier League to score four goals in one game.
To add insult to injury, Norwich would score a fifth before the game was completed. Sutton, who pulled the strings for most of the game, completed a simple chance with 13 minutes to go.
5-1 for Norwich on the day. And Ekoku’s name was in the history books.