Luis Suarez’s 19-minute hat-trick fires newly promoted side into title hunt

Suarez is nearing the end of his time at Gremio as, despite having signed a two-year contract at the start of the year, his early exit has been confirmed.

Before an expected move to Inter Miami to rejoin Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, though, the Uruguayan is helping his current club make a bid for the title.

That took a welcome twist on Thursday night, as Suarez scored three times in 19 minutes to ensure Gremio beat Botafogo 4-3.

Botafogo went into the clash top of the Brasileiro Serie A, level on points with Palmeiras, while Gremio sat just behind in fourth.

It looked to be a miserable night for Suarezs side as Junior Santos and Marlon Freitas scored to put Botafogo 3-1 up, after Gremios Everton cancelled out an early goal from ex-Chelsea striker Diego Costa.

But up stepped Suarez, who netted three times in 19 second-half minutes to turn the game on its head and secure a 4-3 victory.

His first showed his composure, cutting onto his left on the edge of the six-yard box and, after evading a challenge, firing low into the net.

He then raced onto a lofted ball, off the shoulder of the centre-backs, to power in from close range, before surging into the box with a one-two to convert and seal his hat-trick.

Gremio held on for all three points, which saw them draw level with Botafogo and Palmeiras having taken 59 points from 33 games.

The Porto Alegre side are second, after putting together a run of five consecutive victories in the Brazilian top flight.

It is a remarkable feat given Gremio were only promoted back to Serie A last season, with ex-Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva scoring in the promotion-clinching game.

Lucas was forced to retire in May due to a heart problem which had already kept him out for seven months, denying him a reunion with Suarez on the pitch.

My first hat-trick, Suarez wrote on Instagram after the win. Lets go Gremio! Until the very end.

In 48 games for Gremio so far, the 36-year-old has scored 23 goals and laid on 16 assists, with five fixtures left to play.