Enugu Rangers turned on the style at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium to firmly consign the ghosts of a disastrous continental campaign to the background by hammering Remo Stars 5-2 in Group A while Akwa United completed a first-ever league double over Heartland to stretch their unbeaten run to eight games and move top of Group B after Match Day 12 fixtures in the 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Sunday.
Rangers, playing only their sixth match in the league due to their continental engagements made it five straight league victories to move to third place in Group A with 15 points although they had to come from behind to record their biggest win this season.
Bright Akpujuvwewo gave Remo a shock lead seven minutes into the match but goals from Ifeanyi George and Godwin Aguda gave Gbenga Ogunbote’s side the lead heading into the break. Aguda from the spot four minutes after the break and Ibrahim Ajani in the 60th minute put the Flying Antelopes 4-1 open before a spectacular own goal from Chidera Ezeh gave Kennedy Boboye’s wards a lifeline. Michael Uchebo’s fine effort in the 90th minute however firmly shut the door on Remo and added a flourish to the scoreline for Rangers who are now just seven points behind Group Leaders MFM with six games in hand.
Rivers United suffered a first home reversal of the season going down 1-2 to Wikki Tourists at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt. All the goals came in the first half with Saidu Abdullahi and Hassan Musa giving the visitors a two-goal lead before Martins Ossy halved the deficits for the hosts in the 37th minute although Stanley Eguma’s wards failed to build on the lifeline in the second half. Rivers are winless in three and have lost two of those matches while Wikki pick a maiden away victory.
Lobi Stars performed a tribute to Lazarus by fighting back from 2-0 down to earn a share of the spoils against Niger Tornadoes at the Bako Kontagora Stadium, Minna. Aliyu Goyi Mohammed scored two penalties either side of halftime to put the home side firmly in the lead but Samad Kadiri replied with a brace of his own in the second half to deny Tornadoes, who remain firmly glued to the bottom of Group A, a first win in four matches.
Segun Alebiosu’s 35th-minute effort was enough to secure all three points for Kwara United against Katsina United in Ilorin while over at the Enyimba Stadium in Aba, goals from Dare Olatunji and Ifeanyi Anaemena who scored from the spot gave Enyimba a nervy 2-1 win over Sunshine Stars. Isreal Abia scored Sunshine’s lone effort to become the first player to score past Enyimba at home this season.
Enyimba’s victory move them to within three points of Group A leaders MFM who lost 1-0 on Saturday to Bendel Insurance at the UNIBEN Sports Complex. Kingsley Onovo scored the winner for Insurance.
In Group B, Akwa United displaced FC Ifeanyiubah who are away to Kano Pillars on Wednesday from the top of the log for the first time this season after a Cyril Olisema penalty in the 64th minute earned the Promise Keepers a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Heartland at the Godswill Apkabio Stadium in Uyo. Akwa complete a first-ever double over Heartland who have now fallen to back-to-back defeats in the league following a 2-1 loss to the same opposition in Match Day 11 in Okigwe.
Akwa’s rise to the summit of Group B completes a remarkable turnaround for Rafael Everton’s side who failed to win any of their first four games in the league while Heartland find themselves in relegation waters having lost three on the bounce and are winless in six after a promising start to the season.
El Kanemi Warriors kept pace with Akwa at the top of Group B but with a lesser goals difference after picking up an impressive away win at Gombe United. Isiaka Olawale scored a dramatic 90th minute winner to give Warriors the victory in the North East derby at the Pantami Stadium to earn El Kanemi a second away win of the season.
There were also dramatic scenes at the Krisdera Hotel Stadium, Omoku where home side Go Round FC scored in the seventh minute of added time to grab a 1-0 victory over bottom side Yobe Desert Stars for whom Anayo Ogbonna was sent off in the 85th minute. Adeseun Adelani snuck in the winner to move Go Round to fourth place on the log and push Ngozi Elechi perilously closer to the precipice.
Rounding off the string of 1-0 scorelines in Group B on Sunday, Plateau United scored a highly controversial victory over Abia Warriors who were forced to play with ten men for over seventy minutes after goalkeeper Joshua Enaholo was sent off in the first half. Mohammed Zukilful’s disputed goal gave Abdu Maikaba’s side the victory at the New Jos Stadium.
2018/2019 NPFL MATCH DAY 12 RESULTS
BENDEL INSURANCE 1-0 MFM
(Kingsley Onovo 16′)
RIVERS UNITED 1-2 WIKKI TOURISTS
(Martins Ossy 37′ – Saidu Abdullahi 17′, Hassan Musa 23′)
RANGERS 5-2 REMO STARS
(Ifeanyi George 36′, Godwin Aguda 45′, 49′ (pen), Ibrahim Ajani 60′, Michael Uchebo 90′ – Bright Akpojuvwewo 7′, Chidera Ezeh 83′ (OG))
NIGER TORNADOES 2-2 LOBI STARS
(Aliyu Goji Mohammed 35′ (pen), 48′ (pen) – Samad Kadiri 52′, 58′)
ENYIMBA 2-1 SUNSHINE STARS
(Dare Olatunji 29′, Ifeanyi Anaemena 70′ (pen) – Israel Abia 75′)
KWARA UNITED 1-0 KATSINA UNITED
(Segun Alebiosu 35′)
AKWA UNITED 1-0 HEARTLAND
(Cyril Olisema 64′ (pen))
GOMBE UNITED 0-1 ELKANEMI
(Isiaka Olawale 90′)
GO ROUND FC 1-0 YOBE DESERT STARS
(Adeseun Adelani 90+7)
PLATEAU UNITED 1-0 ABIA WARRIORS
(Mohammed Zukilful 10′)