Ifeanyi Egwim scored a hattrick as Dolphins cruised to a 3-1 win against Lobi Stars at the Liberation Stadium on Saturday.
Egwim scored the first with his natural left foot, headed home a second from close range before firing home the third with a ferocious right-foot effort.
But Eche Idakwo pulled one back late on for the visitors which proved a mere consolation as Dolphins enjoyed a sweet victory in front of their fans.
Dolphins, the 2011 Champions went ahead in the game with their very first foray into the goal area even before the visitors and fans settled down inside the chilly weather that hung over Port Harcourt as the game got underway.
Dolphins' Technical Adviser Stanley Eguma had made a last-minute change to his starting eleven with Fred Okwara who had earlier been named in the starting eleven dropped to the bench for Omo Johnson. It proved to be an inspired decision as it was Johnson that beat a wrongly set offside trap on the 6th minute to square a through pass for Egwim who only had a simple task of tapping into an unguarded net.
Dolphins took their feet off the pedal and was almost punished when Ukeyima Akombo headed beyond Sunday Rotimi on 40 minutes but returning left-back Chidiebere Okolie was on hand to make a goalline clearance. Goalkeeper Sunday Rotimi saved two more goal-bound efforts in quick succession and the hosts were relieved to hear center referee, Dele Atoun's whistle signalling the end of the first half.
If Lobi Stars had hoped the good end to the first half would lead to an improved second half display, they were proved wrong as Dolphins had other ideas. With less than two minutes into the second half, the hosts doubled the lead. Isiaka Olawale embarked on a surging run down the left but was twice thwarted by Lobi goalkeeper Terkaa Melai. There was no respite for Melai though as the ball fell to Emem Eduok whose effort was also blocked to the path of the unmarked Ifeanyi Egwim who headed into an empty net.
With two minutes left on the clock, Ifeanyi Egwim completed his hattrick after latching on to a sublime pass by Tijani Adamu. A perfect first touch with his left-foot set the ball nicely for his weaker right foot but there was no weakness in the shot that beat Melai for Egwim's and Dolphins' 3rd. The ovation for the goal had hardly died down when the Dolphins defense switched off at the other end, allowing Eche Idakwo to score his first goal of the season a minute later.
22. Sunday Rotimi, 16. Chizoba Amaefule
3. Chidiebere Okolie, 8. Emeka Atuloma, 5. Douhadji Joseph, 31. Victor Ezuruike
7. Isiaka Olawale (Dosso Alhassane 62') 13. Ifeanyi Egwim 32. Omo Johnson (Fred Okwara 85') 20. Tijani Adamu
11. Emem Eduok (Olewezi Johnson 68')
1. Ibrahim Pius 34. Xavier Mendy
4. Stone Evbuomwan 26. Zikiye Jonathan
BOOKED: Victor Ezuruike 82', Ifeanyi Egwim 89'
GOALS: Ifeanyi Egwim 6' 47' 88'
16. Terkaa Melai 35. Mathew Elaigwu
31. Kingsley Ashu 10. Tema Ikpeen
27. Stephen Eze (Anthony Agbaji 57') 3. Felix Osia 2. Bunde Moses 6. Kingsley Udoh (Nanen Immenger 66')
17. Ukeyima Akombo. 25. Eche Idakwo
32. Ujah Joseph (Romanus Ebere 80')
12. Terhemen Akombo 7. John Paul
20. John Eimonye 18. Philip Asuquo
BOOKED: Anthony Agbaji 65', Kingsley Ashu 77'
GOAL: Eche Idakwo 89'