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‘Inside The Vault‘ revisits iconic moments in the history of sport. In this edition, we take a look at the fastest Premier League hat-trick of all time.
A Premier League hat-trick in four minutes and 33 seconds.
It would seem fantastical even on a Playstation.
Robbie Fowler probably thought his record would never be broken.
The former Liverpool striker, affectionately known as ‘God’ on the red half on Merseyside, shattered the record for the fastest Premier League hat-trick of all time in the Reds’ 3-0 win over Arsenal at Anfield on August 28th, 1994.
Fowler’s remarkable record would stand for over two decades, until May 2015.
Saturday, May 16th, 2015, to be precise.
Southampton v Aston Villa in the early 12.45pm kick-off at St. Mary’s. The Saints came into the match in seventh place after 37 games, while Villa knew a positive result would likely secure their top flight status for another season.
Ronald Koeman’s Saints thought they’d opened the scoring in just the fifth minute, only for Graziano Pelle’s strike to be controversially ruled out for offside.
Enter Sadio Mane.
The Senegalese winger exploded into life in three chaotic minutes to leave Tim Sherwood’s men reeling.
In the 13th minute, Pelle used his powerful frame to flick on a header deep in the Villa half.
Villa’s centre backs, Ron Vlaar and Jores Okre let the ball bounce between them, allowing the fleet-footed Mane to burst through on goal.
Mane still had plenty to do, but he rode Vlaar’s challenge and out-muscled Okre before squeezing off a shot as Shay Given rushed out to meet him.
Given managed to block Mane’s initial effort, but the loose ball deflected kindly into the winger’s path, allowing him to tap home into an empty net.
A minute later, the Senegal international doubled his tally.
Vlaar played a woefully under-hit back pass towards Given, which the former Repulic of Ireland goalkeeper’s international teammate Shane Long raced to intercept.
Long nicked the ball past Given, who hauled the Saints’ striker to the floor, but Mane ghosted in to slot the loose ball into the empty net to make it 2-0.
Mane saved the best for last.
In the 16th minute, the excellent Long raced down the left wing and slid a low left-footed cross across the 18-yard box.
Mane met the inviting cross with the inside of his right foot, finding the top corner past a flailing Given with a wonderful finish.
History was made as the ball nestled emphatically in the back of the St. Mary’s net, Mane’s sub-three minute hat-trick comfortably eclipsing Fowler’s long-standing record.
In two minutes and 56 seconds, Villa found themselves facing a three-goal deficit after just 16 minutes of the first half.
The onslaught was relentless, and Mane turned provider 10 minutes later to set up Southampton’s fourth.
He sent Pelle in behind the Villa defence – which was static to put it mildly – with a clever through ball, only for Given to deny the Italian with a fine save.
Luckily for the Saints, and unfortunately for the visitors, Long was on hand to tap in the hosts’ fourth.
Were it not for his iconic winner against world champions in Germany, Long’s second goal in the 38th minute would surely be up there with the Irish striker’s most impressive goals.
Robbing Villa midfielder Ashley Westwood of possession just inside the opposition half, Long dribbled towards goal before curling a stunning 40-yard effort over the head of Given, who was caught off his line.
Christian Benteke pulled one back iin first half stoppage time, heading home Leandro Bacuna’s pinpoint cross to score Villa’s 500th away goal in the Premier League.
Pelle added the Saints’ sixth in the 81st minute, meeting Mane’s wicked cross with a volleyed finish from six yards.
Mane collected the match ball after the full time whistle, ending the game with three goals and one assist.
2m56s – Sadio Mane’s hat-trick took just two minutes and 56 seconds, the fastest ever seen in the @premierleague. Sensation.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 16, 2015
A year later, Mane earned a £30 million move to Liverpool after ending the 2015/16 season as Southampton’s top scorer with 15 goals.
Since then, he has established himself as one of the world’s best players, finishing fourth in the 2019 Ballon d’Or rankings.
Fowler, in an interview with Mane last year, addressed the current Liverpool winger’s record-breaking hat-trick.
“I scored the three goals in four and a half minutes, and I thought that was quick, but your record, was it 2mins 56? That is incredible. I was thinking mine would never get beat, but yours surely will never be beaten?!”
Mane said he was too shy to comment on the prospects of his own record being eclipsed, but the Liverpool winger must be feeling confident.
Three goals in less than three minutes will take one hell of a beating.