NPFL Matchday 33 Review: Rivers United extend gap at the top after key win .Mbaoma’s hat trick fuels Enyimba’s big home win

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Rivers United further widened the gap on second placed Plateau United after they came back from a goal down to beat Abia Warriors in Port Harcourt yesterday while Victor Mbaoma bagged first career hat-trick to power Enyimba to the fourth spot as Matchday 33 of the NPFL went down across 10 centres.

The Pride of Rivers are now within three wins to the league title after they managed a 2-1 home win over stubborn Abia Warriors in Port Harcourt to again open up an unassailable lead at the top of the table. It was the visitors that struck first through Anthony Okemmiri who scored in the first minute to the consternation of the home fans.

Chijioke Akuneto evened the scoreline in the 69th minute from the penalty spot after he was given a second chance by the referee when his initial kick was saved by the Warriors’ goalkeeper. But he infringed the rule by stepping out of his line before the spot kick and the referee ordered a replay which was discharged with aplomb by Akuneto.

The same player scored the second goal of the game in the 77th minute to make it four goals in his last two home games. Akuneto is the current highest scorer in the topflight with 16 goals.

Lobi Stars scraped a 2-1 home win over Heartland FC despite the visiting team finishing the tie with nine players.

The Pride of Benue were awarded a spot kick in the seventh minute but Chijioke Ejiogu saved the penalty kick taken by Chinonso Okonkwo. They were given another spot kick which was converted by Nanen Imenger in the 55th minute. Murphy Ndukwu equalised for the sinking Naze Millionaires in the 66th minute but there was a mild drama in the closing minutes which saw the red cards awarded to Ebuka Okoro and Chijioke Mbaoma. Lobi got the last laugh when Ifeanyi Ogba bagged the second goal for the home team in the 90th minute. It was his seventh goal of the season.

Katsina United further compounded the relegation woes of MFM with a 2-1 home win. Destiny Ashadi and Dauda Madaki got the goals for the Changi Boys in the sixth and 89th minutes while Micah Ojodomo scored again for the Church Boys in the 65th minute. The vital victory lifted Katsina United to the 13th spot with 42 points but MFM are only playing the waiting game.

League’s reigning champions, Akwa United returned to winning ways after two games with a lone goal victory over Remo Stars. Naibe Akpesiri notched the only goal in the 66th minute. The Promise Keepers who cannot defend the title they won last season this term are now eighth on the log with 48th points but the Sky Blue Stars are fifth with 50 points.

Kano Pillars’ return home game with Wikki Tourists ended in a deadlock after a 1-1 draw in Kano. Sai Masu Gida had requested to the League Management Company (LMC) for a return to their fortress at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano.

Fahad Usman put pillars in the ascendancy in the 14th minute but Wikki’s Shafiu Adamu equalised for the away side in the 34th minute to have the fans joy halted. Sai Masu Gida were presented with the golden chance to put the game beyond the Giant Elephants in the 83rd minute when they were awarded a penalty kick but Galadima Mohammed managed to save Auwalu Ali’s spot kick. The home draw is a bad omen for Pillars who dropped to the 16th spot with 39 points while Wikki are now in 10th spot with 45 points.

Ugochukwu Leonard Aputazie continued his impressive season with Sunshine Stars after his 10th goal of the season fueled the Owena Whales’ 2-1 win over Niger Tornadoes in Akure. Leonard scored after 11 minutes before Jimmy Abdul evened the scores for Ikon Allah Boys a minute before halftime. Ikenna Cooper got the match-winner in the 68th minute. The win lifted Sunshine to the seventh spot with 48 points but Tornadoes slipped to the relegation zone. They are 17th with 39 points.

Gombe United held Dakkada to a 2-2 draw at the Pantami Stadium. Abdulazeez Yusuf notched his 15th goal of the season in the fifth minute but the Chosen Ones scored twice in the 25th and 37th minutes to change the tide through Rahman Olanrewaju (own goal) and Emmanuel Ayaosi goals. Sani Suleiman equalised for the home team to force shared spoils in the 56th minute.

Shooting Stars scaled through Plateau United hurdle with a slim 2-1 home win.

Emmanuel Lucky had the chance to put the Oluyole Warriors 2-0 up after Malomo Taofeeq early goal, in the 31st minute from the spot but Goalkeeper, Suraj Ayeleso stopped his penalty kick.

Samuel Mathias got the equalizing goal for the Peace Boys in the 64th minute but 3SC copped the maximum points when Moses Omodumueke coolly converted from the penalty spot in the 89th minute. Plateau United remains in the second spot with 60 points but they are 10 points adrift of runaway leaders, Rivers United.

Nasarawa United needed a penalty kick in the 60th minute before beating Enugu Rangers 1-0 in Jos. Tochukwu Michael showed his proficiency from the spot when he converted it for his 10th goal of the season. The Flying Antelopes who held on to the third spot on the log with 51 points finished the game with 10 players with David Chimezie’s expulsion in the 58th minute. The Solid Miners moved to the 11th spot with 44 points.

At the Enyimba Stadium, Aba, Victor Mbaoma fired a hat trick to mastermind Enyimba’s 3-0 home win over Kwara United. His first career hat trick lifted the People’s Elephant to the fourth spot with 51 points. The former Remo Stars’ skipper got his goals in the third, 15th and 54th minutes to move to 15 goals and just a goal behind current leading scorer, Chijioke Akuneto.

NPFL Matchday 33 Results

Enyimba 3-0 Kwara Utd
Sunshine Stars 2-1 Tornadoes
Katsina Utd 2-1 MFM
Lobi 2-1 Heartland
Akwa Utd 1-0 Remo Stars
Gombe Utd 2-2 Dakkada
3SC 2-1 Plateau Utd
Kano Pillars 1-1 Wikki
Rivers Utd 2-1 Abia Warriors
Nasarawa Utd 1-0 Rangers

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