Jermain Defoe received an early birthday present, his clinical hat-trick helping fire Rangers to the top of the Scottish Premiership yesterday.
Defoe, who today turned 37, took his goal tally for the season to 12 as the Gers demolished struggling Hamilton Academical 5-0 at Ibrox.
Steven Gerrard’s team took advantage of Celtic’s defeat to Livingston earlier in the day to move two points clear going into the international break.
Happy Birthday to Jermain Defoe!— MansionBet (@MansionBet) October 7, 2019
What a season he is having 🔥
🏟 7 games
⚽️ 9 goals
🎩 2 hat-tricks pic.twitter.com/w1YxcFzDtf
Connor Goldson and Borna Barisic also scored for Rangers who received praise for their finishing from Hamilton head coach Brian Rice.
He said: “I’ve seen a lot of Rangers. I keep saying it, their attacking play is as good as I've seen in a long, long time.
"For me, Celtic and Rangers are on a different planet to anyone else in this division. The gap for me, between Celtic, Rangers and the rest, is as big as I've ever seen in my 40 years in Scottish football.”
AZERBAIJAN PREMIER LEAGUE
Asmir Begovic kept a third clean sheet in four league games as Qarabag maintained their 100 per cent winning record with a 2-0 victory over struggling Sabah at Tofiq Bahramov Republican Stadium.
Goals from Magaye Gueye and Abbas Huseynov made it seven league wins on the trot for Qarabag who visit second-bottom Gabala on Saturday.
Gillingham manager Steve Evans gave his backing to Mikael Ndjoli (pictured above) after he had suffered penalty misfortune in their 3-1 win over League One rivals Southend at Priestfield.
Ndjoli missed two spot-kicks in quick succession, hitting the post with the first and then seeing the second well saved by Shrimpers goalkeeper Mark Oxley.
The Gills had been leading 2-1 at the time thanks to goals from Alfie Jones and Stuart O’Keefe before Brandon Hanlan completed the scoring late on. Simon Cox netted for Southend who had Emile Acquah sent off for two bookings.
Ndjoli has hit three goals in nine appearances for Gillingham, his tally including successful penalties in a 2-0 win against Wycombe in the league and in a 2-2 draw with Newport County in the Carabao Cup.
Discussing Ndjoli’s display, Evans said: “He absolutely tore them apart from the first minute to the last. He’s such a fantastic finisher and that’s why there was no hesitation in throwing him the ball for the second penalty.
“I wouldn’t fret about him taking another one. I know people might say ‘how can you say that?’ but his penalty-taking is normally so deadly.”
Harry Arter was replaced by Harrison Reed at half-time during Fulham’s eventful 2-2 draw with Charlton in the Championship.
Second-half goals from Ivan Cavaleiro and Aleksander Mitrovic saw Fulham twice come from behind to claim a share of the points at Craven Cottage.
Sam Surridge was an unused substitute as Swansea City were knocked off the Championship summit after being condemned to a 2-1 defeat by struggling Stoke City at Liberty Stadium.
Kyle Taylor also remained on the bench as Forest Green Rovers moved to the top of League Two after registering an emphatic 3-1 win over Crawley at the New Lawn.
Ndjoli and Taylor could feature in the EFL Trophy tomorrow when Forest Green host Coventry and Gillingham visit Ipswich.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Emerson Hyndman had a hand in Atlanta United’s opening goal as they finished the regular season with a convincing 3-1 win over the New England Revolution at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Hyndman started a sweeping move which ended with Darlington Nagbe drawing first blood for the hosts in the third minute.
Josef Martinez netted to restore Atlanta’s lead after the Revs had levelled before Julian Gressel completed the scoring.
Defending champions Atlanta will renew rivalries with the Revs in the first round of the MLS Cup play-offs on 19th October.
Brad Smith played his part as Seattle Sounders secured the number two seed in the Western Conference play-offs with a 1-0 victory over Minnesota United at CenturyLink Field.
Roman Torres scored the only goal in the 29th minute to set up a date with FC Dallas in the first round of the MLS Cup play-offs on 19th October.
Cherries team-mates Tyler Cordner (pictured above) and Frank Vincent could come face to face tomorrow when Ebbsfleet United host Torquay United.
Cordner turned in another assured display as Ebbsfleet went down 2-0 at Harrogate on Saturday, while Vincent played his part in the Gulls’ 2-1 win over AFC Fylde at Plainmoor.
Although Fleet currently prop up the table, defender Cordner, 20, has been one of their leading lights and hopes results will turn against Torquay and at home to Maidenhead on Saturday.
He told the BBC: “It’s going to be hard, we’re in a battle and we know that. But we’ve got to take it game by game and try to dig out a result. Hopefully, results will start coming our way.
“We can’t look too much at the negatives because we know we’re in a battle and focusing on those will not serve us well for the next couple of games.
“We’ve got to go in positively and hopefully get three points. In our last home game, we beat Barnet 3-0 so hopefully we can build on that with our home form.”
Charlie Seaman replaced Sam Smart four minutes from the end of Eastleigh’s 2-1 win against Chesterfield at Proact Stadium.
Goals from Tyrone Barnett and Marcus Barnes saw the Spitfires come from behind to claim a second victory in their past six league games.
Seaman, who has made seven appearances for Eastleigh, will be hoping for more game time when they host Maidenhead at Silverlake Stadium tomorrow (7.45pm).
FA CUP THIRD QUALIFYING ROUND
Calum Ward and Shaun Hobson both played their part in helping Weymouth book a place in the fourth qualifying round.
Yemi Odubade's double and goals from Josh Wakefield and Jake McCarthy saw them register a comprehensive 4-1 win over National South rivals St Albans City at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
It earned the Terras a home tie in the final qualifying round against National League outfit Dover Athletic on 19th October.
Weymouth also banked £11,250 in prize money with another £18,750 up for grabs in the next round.
SOUTHERN PREMIER SOUTH
Goalkeeper Cameron Plain turned in another impressive display in Wimborne Town’s 3-1 defeat by Merthyr Town at Penydarren Park.
Tom Hanfrey was an unused substitute in Farnborough Town’s 3-1 defeat against high-flying Taunton Town at the Viridor Stadium.
Mikael Ndjoli picture courtesy of Kent Pro Images