Laba Kodjo was on top of his game as he put four past Al Jazira, helping Al Ain register a thumping 5-0 win in front an ecstatic crowd at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium to wrap up the 2021-22 ADNOC Pro League title on Wednesday with three games to spare.
The Togolese striker beat goalkeeper Ali Khaseif for the first time within four minutes, but his finish following Soufiane Rahimi’s exquisite backheel assist was overturned by VAR with the Moroccan winger deemed offside.
The inevitable opener arrived at the quarter-hour mark after Caio Canedo exchanged passes with Cristian Guanca down the right flank before squaring for Kodjo who swept home with his right for Al Ain’s first.
Kodjo added his 25rd goal of the season nine minutes before the break, rising highest to meet Bandar Al Ahbabi’s floated cross from the right, sending a looping header past Khaseif to double his side’s lead.
The hosts picked up right where they left off after the restart and another devastating counter attack saw Rahimi break free down the right and square for Kodjo who kept his composure to finish with his left foot, completing a perfect hat-trick in the 50th minute.
He had also scored a hat-trick against Al Jazira in the reverse fixture.
Once more, the deadly duo of Al Ahbabi and Kodjo combined, with the UAE international winger sending a perfectly weighted ball from the halfway line on the right flank for Kodjo who beat his marker to the ball then applied a spectacular lobbed finish that left goalkeeper Khaseif rooted to the spot, nestling into the back of the net for 4-0 in the 71st minute.
Even after coach Sergiy Rebrov withdrew Kodjo and Al Ahbabi, Al Ain were not done scoring.
Five minutes from time, Canedo got in on the action, heading home Guanca’s cross from a free kick down the left to complete the rout with his 25th goal of the campaign.
Al Jazira’s misery was compounded in added time after Abdoulaye Diaby received his marching orders for an elbow on Brazilian full-back Erik Jorgens deep in added time, leaving his side to finish the game with ten men.
The win means Al Ain opened an unassailable ten-point gap at the top of the table with three games to go, sealing their fifth Pro League title and number 14th in the competition’s extended history.