Lobi Stars of Makurdi ended their CAF Champions League run with a 2-0 win over ASEC Mimosas in their final group game at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu on Saturday.
Sikiru Alimi’s first-half brace secured the win for the Pride of Benue, bowing out of the tournament on a high note.
Before kick-off, the stadium observed a minute of silence for victims from the Ethiopian Airline crash, after which Tunisian referee Haythem Guirat got the game underway and expectedly it was the home team that began the game started like dogs let loose.
However, ASEC Mimosas’ Ahmed Touré had the first real chance in the game but his shot just outside the box sailed across the face of goal to put goalkeeper Olufemi Kayode at rest for the time being.
After that early scare, Lobi Stars shot into the lead as Matthias Martins with a cutback pass located an unmarked Alimi in the box and the striker poked in the ball from close range just after three minutes of action.
Alimi could have doubled the lead for Lobi minutes after getting the opening goal but the big striker could not direct his header on target despite being free from any marker.
The Ivorians who still had a fighting chance of pulling through if they win in Enugu and the result go their way in Morocco tried to mount a quick fightback but they were very poor in the final third.
ASEC were hit with a big blow as they had to make a forced substitution with Thomas Gonazo taking the place of injured Sako Umar in the 21st minute.
The introduction of Gonazo was a blessing in disguise for ASEC as he breathed new life into the attack of the visitors; providing pin-point crosses that were unfortunately fluffed by his teammates especially Sali Bagate who had the chance to pull his side level on two different occasions inside seven minutes.
ASEC were punished for the lax defending again in the 39th-minute this time it was Dare Ojo that provided a cutback pass to Alimi and the striker in a similar fashion scored from close range to give Lobi a 2-0 lead.
Lobi continued their dominance in the second half and Alimi was keen to make it a hat-trick for himself but it was not to be as the ASEC goalkeeper stood tall not to allow for more goals from the striker.
Coach Solomon Ogebeide did throw in Micheal Stephen and Yaya Kone into the game late in the second half and the duo almost repaid the faith reposed in them by the coach.
Stephen won a free kick for Lobi Stars at the edge of the box in the 81st minute and it almost resulted in the third goal for the Nigerians as Kone whipped the ball expertly, but it only rattled the crossbar as the game ended 2-0.
With Saturday’s win, Lobi Stars ended their campaign as the third-placed team in Group B with seven points, ASEC on their part finished bottom also with seven points after six games